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Flutter & React Native: Comparison and Cost

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As experience shows, cross-platform technology is more often used to build MVPs to test the product with minimal budget expenditures, evaluate the audience’s response, and understand whether it makes sense to refine the app or increase functionality. 

The ideal should be cost-effective and provide a great user experience (people should perceive it as Native). There are many platforms on the market. Among the most popular are React Native and Flutter.

The final choice of platform depends on some factors, starting from available resources and ending with the features of the future app (functionality, number of screens, for which devices it should be available). First, let’s talk about the React Native and Flutter platforms.

React Native

React Native development is a powerful platform. A significant advantage is an open-source code. You can use it to make apps of different complexity, with other functions and features. 

React Native, the brainchild of Facebook appeared on the market in 2015, and in 2018 it took second place by the number of users. Facebook itself and its family of apps: Skype, Instagram, Pinterest, Uber, and others, although many of them still used native code. RN uses JavaScript and React.js. 

Flutter & React Native: Comparison and Cost

React Native development is characterized by high efficiency and reliability. Since it offers ready-to-use native components, the process becomes less stressful and faster. In addition, this approach significantly reduces the time it takes to create a full-fledged app.

React Native development has a handy Fast Refresh feature. This way, you can add new code to the finished app. It will expand the number of functions of the product. In addition, it saves time when testing changes to the product’s user interface.

Testing apps can be tricky because they use different JavaScript engines for normal and debug modes. In each of these cases, the code may behave differently. As a result, react native app development cost can vary significantly.

Flutter

Google released it in May 2017. Although this library is younger than React Native’s development, it has already gained quite a few fans worldwide, and it continues to grow steadily. According to Stack Overflow, 75% of respondents named it their favorite framework, proving that Flutter is not a temporary hype but quite a famous library. Furthermore, you can use it to implement any project. For example, developers used it to create Alibaba, Airbnb, and Tencent apps.

Flutter allows you to change code and see the results in real-time. You can fix bugs and resize elements in seconds. Some major modifications may require you to reload the app, but immediately, most changes can be seen thanks to the Hot-Reload mode.

The library is more resistant to changes related to operating system updates. New versions of Flutter have backward compatibility, so no updates disrupt the app.

A large number of tools opens a considerable number of opportunities for programmers. For example, it is possible to build apps for modern smartphones. With the help of ready-made widgets, it is much easier to implement any interface ideas. But it is crucial to keep in mind that apps made on the platform take up a lot of space on the device.

Comparing Flutter with React Native Development

Flutter is a young and dynamically dev framework. In terms of star rating, it is close to React Native, while in terms of the number of open issues, it has a tenfold advantage. The 5K issues and the fact that the number of the new problems exceeds the number of the issues closed indicates both rapidly dev. Experts actively tested it and reported bugs. It should also include many closed PRs, which means active support.

The benefits that each of the pairs promises us, I have divided into the following main categories:

Write once. The essence of frameworks is the promise of “write once, run everywhere.” In both cases, it’s not 100% achievable. React Native, relying on OEM widgets, can’t consistently deliver a smooth and seamless look and feel.

Learn once. React Native development, with ReactJS at its core, benefits from the incredible popularity of both the JavaScript language itself and the platform. So it shouldn’t be too hard for you to switch to web dev. 

Bundled components. Сome with a ready-made set of components, but the advantage here is still for Flutter because each of the existing components will be rendered.

Performance. The final Flutter app will be native code, which, all other things being equal, will always be faster than JavaScript.

Third-party libs. React Native is out of competition here. NPM provides us with a lot of libraries for every taste. At the same time, DartPub, due to its young age, does not have such a wealth of choice. A lot of libraries, if any, are still young.

Worldwide. Even though Flutter is gaining popularity and has grown, it still can’t beat React Native in popularity.

Experience. Comparing experience, Flutter beats React Native in the quality and quantity of various tools.

Debug and profiling. Flutter has a separate app build mode that helps with profiling and debugging cases. At the same time, for React Native, this is a more time-consuming process.

Code push. At the moment, there are no analogs in Flutter. The claim is that this task is solvable. If this feature is essential to anyone, there is an issue on GitHub that you can follow.

Comparison of Architectures

Architecturally, these platforms have little in common. What they have in common on which the app runs and, in a sense, the way they interact with the services provided. Otherwise, they are fundamentally different.

Flutter works directly with canvas and events, draws widgets, and has its layout and rendering model. On the other hand, React Native development relies entirely on OEM widgets provided and has a layer in the form of the Yoga engine, which implements flexbox layout, and rendering is entirely dependent.

Flutter is compiled into native code, whereas React Native runs within the JavaScriptCore, which is not the most efficient way to run and run an app. In addition, in React Native, all interaction with the platform is done through a bridge, which adds the overhead of serializing and deserializing data between the JS execution environment and the native code.

Flutter has Channels, which work similarly to the bridge to implement interactions with services (sensors, cameras, etc.), but at the expense of native code work that is significantly faster. It’s also worth mentioning that the days of bridges are numbered, as React Native development is moving to architecture with JavaScriptInterface to get rid of the overhead of bridges.