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React Native vs. Flutter: Which One is Better?

 min read
React Native
Mobile App Development

When it comes to selecting a cross-platform mobile application framework, many developers are indifferent. That’s because, in the beginning, the goal is often just to pick the most practical, expedient app maker and get the product to market as quickly as possible.

As a result, someone with a low-tech or no-tech background might view software frameworks and software development kits (SDKs) for mobile applications as interchangeable. But making a selection without at least some forethought is a bad idea.

This is especially true when deciding between the two most popular cross-platform mobile frameworks for software developers: React Native and Flutter. In terms of performance, to most founders’ eyes, they are both fairly similar. But their differences could mean steep costs down the line.

But first, some brief background. 

What is React Native?

React Native, initially released in 2015, is Facebook’s open-source UI software framework for developing applications. It’s a free app maker that is pretty well established, thanks to its use of Javascript and general popularity among developers.

Your application is written in Javascript but then rendered with native code to your users’ app platforms without sacrificing their respective user experiences.

What is Flutter?

Flutter, first launched in 2017, is Google’s answer to React Native, its own open-source UI software development kit. It offers users a fairly enhanced set of widgets and tools, which are sought-after by app makers because of their ability to create vibrant, stunning applications.

Instead of using Javascript, Flutter is programmed in Dart, a programming language created in 2011. 

For many startups, React Native and Flutter can seem pretty similar. But let’s take a look at some of the considerations that can set them apart.

1. User Interface and Speed

Flutter was created with UI in mind and is known for its ability to create apps with visually appealing graphics and seamless transitions. Also, whereas React Native requires a bridge to render Javascript to native platform code, Flutter’s Dart code can be compiled directly, which often makes it a faster option.

Dart is also a more compact programming language than Javascript, and therefore it also tends to compile slightly faster, as evidenced by Dart vs. Javascript benchmark data available online.

For these reasons, some have seen Flutter as an improvement over React Native, which was initially clunky and struggled with slow animations.

As a result, Flutter has been picking up steam in recent years. The percentage of cross-platform mobile developers using Flutter globally has steadily increased over the past few years, from 30% in 2019 to 39% in 2020, and now 42% for 2021. The percentage of cross-platform mobiel developers using React Native was 42% for 2019 and 2020 but dropped to 38% in 2021.

These reasons often lead people into believing that Flutter is inherently the fastest, least expensive option for app development. But that is potentially a very costly mistake for those searching for a free app maker or creating android apps online without coding.

2. Community Platforms and Talent Pools

Javascript was originally created in 1995, and as a result, developers have been solving problems using this programming language for almost a quarter of a century.

In comparison, Dart has only been around for a decade, and its popularity and use have been limited to Google and Google developers for most of that time.

Thus, the Flutter community isn’t nearly as large. Indeed, it can be difficult for developers to locate solutions to specific problems, which can increase the time to market. It also creates a perfect storm down the line as you scale your mobile app and need to hire developers.

The world is currently experiencing a shortage of software engineering talent. In fact, by 2030, experts believe this talent shortage will reach 85.2 million.

Since React Native and Flutter use different programming languages, your selection could limit the pool of talent qualified to work on your app. Also, since the community platforms for Flutter are less mature than their more robust React Native counterparts, that means more limited access to solutions and the greater resulting need to seek out highly skilled Dart programmers. 

Yes, Flutter as an SDK may be faster than React Native as a framework. However, when you consider the possibility of time lost trying to solve problems and the additional costs of possibly needing a more skilled Dart programmer to compensate for the problems that can’t be solved through its community platforms, Flutter may not be your best option. It’s risky, and some risks simply don’t pay off.

3. Time

It’s also important to consider that app development software is constantly changing and always improving. Whereas React Native struggled with stability and slow graphics (among other issues) at first, there have been major improvements since then, and it has become a legitimate competitor to Flutter in terms of UI.

Likewise, the Flutter community is gaining ground. With time, its community platforms will be significant assets for app makers that may even rival those of React Native. But for now, Flutter is still quite young, and its community is simply not as mature.

React Native is the most powerful cross-platform development framework used by millions of developers around the globe, and Draftbit is built on it, providing full React Native and Expo source code exports and the support of our knowledgeable, helpful Community.

Free App Makers Aren’t Equivalent to Free Apps

While you may be attracted to the prospect of a free app maker, when you consider the hidden costs of lost time and hired talent, you’ll realize that it’s nearly impossible to make a free app.

Especially if you prefer low-code or no-code options for app development, the quality of your community support will have a far greater impact on the quality, time to market, and cost of your app than anything else.

That’s why we at Draftbit have invested so much into fostering a vibrant Community, where our users can connect with experts, get help, showcase their progress and stay informed. Your customers and your team rely on you to build solutions that are exceptional. And solving hard problems requires powerful tools, which is why we're building Draftbit to be the most powerful visual development tool available.

Our affordable pricing plans give Draftbit users a competitive edge by fostering an ecosystem of support for app makers, regardless of skill or experience level. Request a demo or start building for free today and experience the difference firsthand.

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