Flutter vs. React Native vs. Xamarin - Detailed Comparison

The abundant presence of smartphones and tablets are influencing cross-platform app development companies to build a unified app that is freely compatible. The immediate thing about cross-platform apps is which technology to choose from including the Flutter, React Native & Xamarin Frameworks.

19th Mar 2020
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There is a huge demand for Cross platform mobile app development in this world of Smartphones and Tablet devices. Intrinsically it creates the inquisitiveness for app developers to know about the best available cross platform framework for developing mobile applications. Hence we have chosen the three best Flutter, React Native and Xamarin Cross Platforms for comparison and evaluation procedures.

What is Cross-Platform Development?

It allows you to develop mobile applications for a number of platforms like iOS and Android consistently through utilizing a unique technology stack. Cross-platform also called as Hybrid App Development

Advantages of Cross-Platform Development

You can get loads of benefits when moving to hybrid mobile app development than restricting yourself to only native mobile app development. And the benefits are:

Write once, deploy everywhere

You simply have to maintain a single codebase when practising hybrid mobile app development and then easily export it to multiple operating systems.

Uniformity across Apps

Since you have to use only the single codebase it becomes rather much more effective to produce the consistent look, feel and experiences across different platforms. Moreover, you can update the mobile apps and also bug fixes all the while to a quantum level.

Saving Resources

It can drastically reduce the no of teams working along the multiple category of a native app and then ensure in the effectual management of a dedicated team to work within a shared codebase.

Audience reach

You can now publish the app for to appear across multiple platforms and then increase the audience reach gradually. It will eventually bring you more number of downloads and users for your cross platform application.

Hybrid App Development Disadvantages

In spite of all the advantages existing in a Cross-Platform development it does also have some trade-offs and disadvantages. Some of them are:

Performance Issues

Despite Cross Platform Apps resembling a lot similar to native apps they do not integrate smoothly across platforms. It also proves on the inability of cross platform apps to communicate effectively between the Native and Non-Native Components. Moreover it does reduce the app speed and degrade the performance substantially.

Inconsistency with Platforms

Usually the Cross Platform tools do not have all the features that are ready to be accessed at once. It requires considerable efforts to be undertaken in the app development process to accomplish specific features. There also appears a latent delay in coming up with the up-to-date features for the selected Framework.

Limited Features

When comparing cross-platforms apps with individual platforms it is transparent that there are a lot of features that is really unavailable in the cross-platform app development. It can result in limiting the user experience greatly.

Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

You have a plenty of Cross Platform App development tools and frameworks for engaging them in mobile apps development. They are:


  • Flutter
  • React Native
  • Xamarin
  • PhoneGap
  • NativeScript
  • Titanium
  • Ionic
  • Sencha
  • Monocross
  • Unity


We can simply evaluate only the three best frameworks including Flutter, React Native and Xamarin to converge the technology choices.

Flutter

Flutter is an open source framework introduced by Google for the front end development of cross platform apps.

Flutter Advantages

  • Complete development ecosystem: The Flutter Framework provides powerful interfaces like API’s, in-built widgets, CLI tools for developers to work effectively with cross platform mobile app development.


  • Customizable: More than its adequate built-in widgets libraries it also allows customization of existing once and creating newer widgets corresponding to your business.


  • Reliability: Google community developed and offers relentless support services.


  • Hot Reload: The code implementation is done within a flash allowing developers to repair bugs faster.


  • Free: Open Source Platform

Flutter Disadvantages

  • Large App size: The Flutter built apps happens to be quite large when comparing to the other frameworks. And this influences developers to consciously reduce the number of libraries and packages with the cross platform app, creating a compressed image that spoils the app animations disastrously.


  • Native APIs: The Flutter Framework is complex and necessitates a lot of workarounds in order to best leverage the capabilities of native APIs. It also leads in integrating third party packages and then creating imbalance in the ecosystem.


However, the Flutter Framework is inclusive of Dart Programming that allows developers to write the native app codes integrated with specific features. Some of the prominent Mobile Apps built using Flutter are Google AdWords, Google Greentea, Alibaba, AppTree, Reflectly, Hookle, Topline, Birch Finance, OfflinePal, Hamilton and BetaBubs.


Complete Flutter Development Tools


  • Flutter Development Language
  • Dart
  • Flutter IDEs


  1. Android Studio
  2. IntelliJ IDEA
  3. Visual Studio Code


  • Flutter Tools
  1. Flutter SDK
  2. DevTools
  3. Hot Reload


  • Flutter Packages
  1. Dart Packages

React Native

React Native is an Open Source Framework developed by Facebook for cross platforms. It adheres with the native platform functionalities and thus enables efficient programming of JavaScript and React Framework.

React Native Advantages

  • User Interface: React Native mainly complies with the native UI components and designs the look of a native apps in close appearances that makes up for the User Interface.


  • Ready to use Components: There are a multitude of component readily available for access and thus reduces the development time greatly.


  • Access to Native Functions: Instant access to Cameras, Microphones, Accelerometer etc.,


  • Platform specific code: It allows you to optimize the platform specific native app to your advantage.


  • Hot Reload: Easy update changes to the apps and retain the users.


  • Reliability: Facebook Community Support


  • Free: Open source platform

React Native Disadvantages

  • Navigation: React Native do not offer the swiftness in screen navigation that is present in Native Apps.


  • Complex UI: React Native Apps often gets locked down and freezes when experimented with complex animations and transitions.


React Native Development Tools


  • React Native development language
  • JavaScript
  • React Native IDEs


1. Atom

2. Nuclide

3. Visual Studio Code

4. React Native Tools

React Native Tools

1. Expo

2. Redux

3. Ignite

4. Flow

5. Reduxsauce

6. ESLint

7. React Navigation

React Native UI Components

1. NativeBase

2. Snowflake

React Native Testing Tools

1. Enzyme

Prominent Apps built using React Native

We have enlisted the React Native Apps in sequence from Facebook, Facebook Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram, Uber Eats, Tesla, Skype, Pinterest, SoundCloud Pulse, Walmart, Bloomberg, Discord, Myntra, Gyroscope, Chop, Vogue, Artsy and F8 Mobile Apps.

Xamarin

Xamarin is an Open Source programming framework that can be used for building cross-platform mobile apps development.


Xamarin Advantages

  • Performance: Xamarin Apps are well known for displaying the native-like performance qualities.


  • Complete Development Ecosystem: Xamarin can be programmed across C#, Visual Studios and .NET for developing the mobile apps and reflecting it over cross platforms at great consistency.


  • Seamless User Experience: Xamarin Forms are complex in structure and have a versatile application in building a library of templates, especially leveraging the standard interface elements. It allows developers to reuse the Xamarin Codes across different platforms successfully.


  • Free: Only for a limited Team Size

Xamarin Disadvantages

  • Updates Delay: Normally the updates in the Xamarin Framework intents a delay factor when accessed from a different type of Xamarin tools, causing issues in the app.


  • Large App Size: The hazardous results of producing Xamarin Updates of 5 megabytes and security bug protection version of 20 megabytes making it quite large than Native Apps. It might affect in improper functioning of cross platform app features.


  • Heavy Graphics: Xamarin Apps does not respond swiftly when interacted over complex applications and mobile gaming. Its performance is identified to be excellent for apps integrated with a basic UI design.


  • Platform specific code: Sometimes it requisites for rewriting codes that comply with the handled UI mobile platforms. It also infers that app developers should have the basic knowledge of Kotlin, Java for Android, Swift and Objective-C for iOS programming.

Xamarin Development Tools

  • Xamarin Development Language
  • C#
  • Xamarin IDEs

1. Visual Studio

2. XCode

Xamarin Tools

1. NuGet

2. Xamarin Inspector

3. Prism

4. MFractor

5. Resharper

Xamarin Testing Tools

1. NUnit

2. xUnit.net

3. Visual Studio Unit Testing Framework

Prominent Apps built using Xamarin

We have selected a list of Xamarin Apps for reference and they are Skulls of the Shogun, SuperGaint Games, Storyo, Insightly, FreshDirect, The World Bank, Just Giving, Olo, Thermo Fisher Scientific and APX mobile apps.

Comparison between Flutter, React Native and Xamarin Frameworks

Performance

It becomes predominantly important to learn about the individual performances of a framework before selecting the best environment for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development. Whenever studying about the near-native app performances the React Native and Xamarin Frameworks happens to meet the design expectations, while Flutter’s performance is excellent because of its Dart code compiled above the C library making it closer to native code. It results in enhancing the speed of interactions and displays a high level of performance. Benchmarking cross platform apps performances is highly indiscernible since there are a plenty of factors that influences it including devices, code, app and features added.

Popularity

There are around 1.6 million of Xamarin developers participating worldwide making it the topmost popular cross platform framework. The successive popularity ranking goes to the React Native Framework with its steady increase in the user base over the years. However, Flutter is definitely user friendly and amongst the most preferred framework with 75.4 percent users, React Native engaging up to 62.5 percent while Xamarin posing only 48.3 percent users.

Development Languages

Especially for all cross platform app developers it is inevitable and rather difficult to avoid the steep learning curve and to fast gain the awareness towards the possibilities of a development language and to work in that environment. The Xamarin Framework permits the substantial usage of C# and F# programming across .NET platforms to develop native codes easily. When choosing the React Native framework it offers developers the chance to write scripting codes using JavaScript and then build React Native Apps.


One drawback of using the JavaScript is that it requires some amount of additional work to be done in order to build the cross platform features. This also confirms to some specific APIs getting inaccessible and needing the help of React Native Apps to proxy it further for errorless transition. Flutter is completely a different development environment that makes use of Dart programming mainly because it is supported by Google Network.

Components

While working in the Hybrid App Development building an adaptive component is severely difficult and in most circumstances you may have to build the components all by yourself that might respond to a variety of mobiles and tablets. React Native has only the partly adaptive components for designing of buttons and text boxes in a mobile app. The next advance thing is the introduction to widgets by the Flutter Framework that vastly consist of library of components. Neither do the widgets respond adaptive during the cross platform app development and are considered to be inefficient. One of the basic reasons to it is the widgets inability to function at real time across android and iOS platforms, since they lack in components that are fully compatible.


Xamarin Framework has a massive component library that attributes on majority like a native UI component that is cross functional across mobile platforms. This allows Xamarin forms to be compiled and run above all types of platform specific UI layouts.

Code reuse

Code reuse is one factor that comforts many cross platform app developers and continues to encourage them into building Android and iOS Apps. It is highly inquisitive to first comprehend the code reusability of each framework to actually choose it for the mobile app development environment. React Native empowers ‘write the code once and ship it anywhere’ policy despite its inherent differences shown in embracing multiple platforms. Moreover, code reusability is a cumbersome process of keeping in mind with the current platform that you had worked and then recollect the required set of components that may be in need for the next platform, over which you intent to test the mobile application.


Beyond these benefits for developers it is the remnant part of the code base that is reusable nurtures great interest. Flutter provides a maximum reusable codebase that can be effectively utilized for developing a unique UI Widget allowing the reusability of already defined logic. It is best suited for cross platforms that offers consistency in the User Experiences. Xamarin is at the top of the list with 96% of the code base being made reusable particularly when leveraging the Xamarin Forms, Components and C# programming.

Pricing

Basically all the three cross platform frameworks are free to access except with Xamarin distributed only to limited no of developers and small companies. The Visual Studio Enterprise comes at an annual subscription of $499 to $2,999 depending on the license procured per desktop systems.

Support and Ecosystem

In the end developers favour only the cross platform frameworks that possess a bigger community base represented by forums, documentations and tutorials. React Native offers numerous learning materials, developers and designers for documentation purposes and provides help on eternal basis. Flutter has just begun to form the community base with google offering reliable support for promoting it towards cross platform app development. It is expected to grow exponentially and build into a stronger ecosystem. Xamarin has a massive community Base and Microsoft is delegating free tutorials for sequentially learning the Xamarin Framework.


Attribute Flutter React Native Xamarin
Programming Language Dart JavaScript +, Swift, Objective-C, Java C# and .NET Environment
Performance Closer to Native Code Resembles Native Code Close to Native Code
GUI Built-in Widgets for delivering UI design Make use of Native UI Controllers
Market and Community Support Moderate Very Strong Strong
Code Reusability 50-90% of code is reusable 90% of code is reusable 96% of code is reusable

Conclusion

One elementary aspect about cross platform mobile app development is that there is no one size fits all design. In principle the Flutter, React Native and Xamarin Frameworks are absolutely good at building mobile apps. It all depends on the specific needs and preferences that eventually governs the selection of a particular cross platform framework. Flutter happens to be excellent in app performance while React Native and Xamarin exceeds in all other attributes. It is subtle and tricky to select a particular cross platform framework over the other and this can be effectively understood by calibrating the number of advantages over minimal disadvantages to move ahead.

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