November 2021

According to Statista, for the past two years React Native and Flutter are the most popular and widely used technologies for cross-platform application development. 

The race to beat one to get to the top between React Native and Flutter has always been in React Native’s court with Flutter following it from the bottom. Has anything changed in the recent years and if so what exactly propelled this change? What attributes of the two technologies make them so popular among the developers and specifically can be chased down to understand the change in trends. 

Before addressing whose leading and why let’s briefly talk about the two to develop a little acquaintance. 

What is Flutter? 

Flutter is a user interface (UI) software development kit released by Google in 2017. It allows you to build cross-platform applications for multiple platforms. 

What is React Native?

React Native is a mobile development framework created by Facebook and released in 2015. It is relatively older than Flutter and allows you to build cross-platform applications that run on mobile phones, desktops, and the web alike. 

What Makes React Native Different from Flutter?

The major difference between the two has to be the “components”. Flutter renders all its components on its own canvas whereas React Native uses JavaScript and transforms its components into native ones. 

It is because of this that component updates don’t have any impact on Flutter apps but do have an impact on React apps. 

This imposes two things: If you don’t want your components to update or change then Flutter is your tool. On the other hand, if you want your components to update with the latest designs then React Native is your go-to framework as this feature happens automatically and doesn’t cost anything in React Native. 

For Flutter, to add updates to the app, you would have to update it manually. It comes down to personal and project-based preference. 

Now, The Big Question is – Will Flutter Be Able to Beat React Native in the Coming Year?

If you see the statistics for the last three years, Flutter has been making tremendous progress and inching closer to React Native with every passing year. For example in 2019, Flutter was behind React Native considerably according to the Stack Overflow survey

This a considerable difference in popularity and use and React Native was clearly leading the path with 10.8 percent. The fact that is worth attention is that Flutter jumped the ladder quite fast and in 2020 it was close to React Native.

This is perhaps the most uber-fast progress compared with that of 2019 but 2021 will surprise you even more. 

This survey represents the result for 2021 and Flutter is standing tall with 13.55% one step behind React Native which is at 14.51%. To consider that Flutter has made so close to React Native in the last three years speaks volumes in itself. 

Flutter vs React Native – Which One Supersedes the Other?

Flutter vs React Native – Popularity 

According to Google trends, on average 61% of developers are interested in Flutter whereas 81% of developers still preferred React Native for the app development.

In the popularity index, both the frameworks enjoy almost the same popularity in cross-platform mobile app development. They both are around about the same time and have developed huge community support over time. 

React Native was launched in 2015 and Flutter in 2017 which gives an edge to React Native in having slightly bigger community support than the latter. But looking at the statistics and numbers, it won’t be long for Flutter to catch up with React Native. 

Secondly, Flutter is more popular in regions like Kenya, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Jordan, and more, whereas React Native is aggressively used in Ireland, Argentina, Canada, Belarus, and more.

Flutter vs React Native – Programming language

Programming language is an aspect that should be kept in mind while hiring a mobile app development team. It is important to know the team’s expertise in programming languages. 

React Native has a familiarity edge with developers as it uses JavaScript and for most developers, it is the preferred language in software development whereas Flutter uses Dart and is therefore considered as an object-oriented programming language. 

JavaScript still is the default language for almost every browser in modern software development. And that’s the reason why most people prefer to hire React native developers and companies. 

But Flutter has its own advantages as Dart is an expressive and safe language and that is why Flutter is often used to develop desktop, mobile, and web applications.

React Native is a more familiarized framework among developers as it is based on Javascript, whereas Flutter is based on Google’s in-house language which is perfect to start off with if you are new to the app development world.

Flutter vs React Native – Learning curve

React Native is a JavaScript framework that has been around for years and developers are more familiar with the language hence the natural adoption of React Native as it is easy to learn compared to Flutter. On the contrary, Flutter uses Dart which is a rather new language not to say it is difficult but it will challenge the beginner. Developers might have to put in a little more and extend their learning capabilities if they want to learn a new language. 

Flutter is comparatively a new language for developers, therefore it demands additional learning efforts whereas React Native is based on JavaScript which has been around for years now.

Flutter vs React Native – Productivity 

The following three parameters will help us understand the productivity of these two frameworks in comparison. 

  • Codebase structure
  • Configuration and Installation
  • Reloading support

Codebase structure

Flutter uses Dart programming language which is sufficient in customizing the UI layout of the app and allows developers to integrate widgets and platforms that are reusable. On the other hand, React Native is similar to JavaScript in that it gives freedom to the developers to separate the executed codes and styles and categorize them accordingly as per the demand. 

Configuration and Installation

Flutters being an advanced kit allows developers to install and check internal issues easily. You need to follow a few steps and you can easily install and run not to say that React Native is difficult but it usually creates a package.

Hot reloading support

Hot reloading support as a feature allows developers to make instant changes to the backend and reflect the changes in the codes right away without having to save the file even. React Native and Flutter both frameworks support this feature in app development to enhance the efficiency of the developers.


Flutter vs React Native – Performance 

Performance tops the chart in terms of most in-demand features in app development solutions. React Native is a relatively older and popular framework but is slightly slower than Flutter in a performance review.  

React is made up of Native and JavaScript languages and to extend the performance of RN, developers need to integrate additional interactions with native ones like touch events, notifications, and more. But in Flutter, there is no need to combine additional OS components, which is why it has a better performance than the former.


Flutter vs React Native – Which One Has the Upper Hand?

If you still don’t have a clear winner for the best mobile app development frameworks, we will compare these two further for you to have a better understanding to choose one. 

UI components – Flutter uses its own UI components which not only enhances the speed of the app development but provides great flexibility to customize UI components for the cross-platform app. Flutter also allows you to build the app on a single codebase against multiple platforms (iOS and Android) which looks and runs exactly the same across all these platforms. 

On the contrary, React Native would need third-party libraries if you wish to run the app across multiple platforms as it uses the native elements for UI updates. 

Code reusability – Flutter provides much faster, quicker, and flexible code reusability because of its own widgets with a high-performance rendering engine.

App development cost – The cost factor is independent of the two frameworks used. The cost for React Native and Flutter is the same and it only varies depending on the skill and the software development company you will choose.

App reachability – Cross-platform is to increase reachability. Cross-platform apps can reach wider as compared to native apps. For reachability, it depends on how you use the framework and design its UI components to develop an innovative app.


Will Flutter Replace React Native in the Near Future?

If you’re debating whether Flutter will replace React Native in the near future then you’re thinking straight. If we consider the statistics and increasing popularity of Flutter then it’s plausible that it catches up with React Native quicker than we anticipate. Flutter’s future looks very promising as some of the leading companies like Alibaba have started using it.

It is constantly refining its tools to make it more attractive for big companies for cross-platform app development and it is succeeding at it. 

In contrast, the supporters of React Native- Facebook are putting their efforts on large-scale re-architecture of the technology. They are putting their best efforts into improving community support while keeping its core functionalities intact. 

It will be challenging to predict one as the clear winner as of now but Flutter has all the features to give a tough time to React Native and other frameworks in the future and vice versa.


The Bottom Line

The purpose of these detailed comparisons lies in the attempt to give you an idea of the two frameworks. It will make it easy to choose one from the two as deemed fit for app development. 

Flutter is a strong competitor to React Native and in some features even takes over RN and vice versa. To sum it all up, it is only right that both frameworks are very powerful and will be the ideal choice for your cross-platform app development. 

If you still find it hard to decide on one and are stuck somewhere then get in contact with us to gain some clarity. Our skilled and experienced developers can help you choose the right one for your project.


Fahad Ali, Author

Fahad is PM at ARFASOFTECH but has a knack for writing. He enjoys writing about the latest technologies and evolving trends. Most of his writings revolve around trending technologies and their integration into operations.

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