React Native V/S Flutter V/S Ionic: Comparing The Cross-Platform App Frameworks

The demand for cross-platform mobile applications has increased over the years. Now developers can easily come up with applications that work for different platforms without having to depend on programming languages like Java and Swift. With an increased number of people using smartphones, it is wise enough to develop an application that works on different devices and versions of iOS and Android.

When it comes to developing such an application you need to have some idea about the software development kits used for cross-platform application development like React Native, Ionic, and Flutter. Having a better idea about such platforms will help you make a wise choice when choosing one for the project.

Here in this article, we will be discussing the different cross-platform app development platforms like React Native, Flutter, and Ionic and the core difference between them in detail.

React vs Flutter vs ionic

So to begin with, let’s see what each one of them stands for:

React Native

React Native which comes from Facebook is an effective tool used for mobile app development. It is a JavaScript framework is used to build cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, and UWP platforms in a way that apps depict native features. The app developed on React Native makes use of XML and JavaScript.

Flutter

Flutter is a mobile UI framework that comes from Google and is open source in nature. The framework can be used to develop mobile applications for Android and iOS. Here a single codebase is compiled to native form so as to make it easily accessible over different platforms. This makes it easy to use Flutter for developing interfaces and apps. You can even use Flutter with some of the popular tools in the market as well as use the rich set of customizable widgets that come with the framework.

Ionic

Ionic is an HTML5 based framework that has been used to build native mobile apps. It makes use of different web technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The main focus of Ionic is on the UI of the app, and its look and feel. The framework is free and open-source in nature.

Building a new app or revamping the existing one is the need of every business. If you are planning to choose one of the cross-platform app development tools mentioned here to resolve your issues then we are here to help you make a wise choice.

You need to understand one thing before you get ahead with it and it is that there is no one clear answer. The right choice depends on many factors and you will be able to choose yours at the end of this post.

Core differences of React Native, Flutter, and Ionic:

Usually, when talking about the differences between different technologies, we consider the below-mentioned parameters first. So, let’s see what it has to say in terms of comparing React Native, Flutter, and Ionic with each other.

Programming language

In order to deliver the native experience both on Android and iOS, React Native makes use of JavaScript and React library. While on the other side, Ionic makes use of a bunch of web technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS along with the Cordova plugin in order to ensure the applications are wrapped within the native containers.

Now things are little different in case Flutter which makes use of Google’s language Dart. Dart is an object-oriented, multi-paradigm, and modern language that is used to develop mobile, web, and desktop applications.

Code reusability

Code reusability has always been on the top when choosing a mobile app development tool for faster development.

Code reusability can be excellently achieved with Ionic. It comes with the concept of “wrapped web app” which makes it easy to reuse the code. Here you will end up developing a wrapped web app at the end of the development. Here development is also helped by a powerful component library.

When it comes to code reusability, Flutter does a good job too. By default, you can use Material Design over both mobile platforms, as the widgets it comes with does not go well with the underlying platform. However, Flutter is doing its best to come up with components that are iOS-styled. Once you know the platform you are running, you can swap the widgets manually. However, it can seem to be more effort than what you need on Ionic.

React Native just offers you a set of native components to start with and it compiles to native defaults. With React Native you need to do more work to get the right styles and this means you need to put in more effort. In the usual case, more codes can be reused.

Community

When compared with Flutter, Ionic, and React Native enjoy the support of a strong community. When we look at different mobile app development tools, Flutter is quite new in the game and is younger to React Native and Ionic. Ionic is built over AngularJS and is in the business for around 6 years now. This has helped it to have strong community support which lets to resolve the issues and offer constant updates.

Even though Flutter arrived late, it has managed to become popular in the market and today more developers are learning Dart so that they could develop native apps that are high-performing and have Google’s community support.

All three mobile app frameworks enjoy strong community support and so are said to be having a bright future in this field.

Pre-styles component library

There can be several questions surrounding you when it comes to building beautiful UIs. Do you have pre-built ones or do you need to create and style on your own? Can the components automatically adapt to the underlying platforms?

You will find a large number of pre-built components in Ionic. The Ionic package comes with a compiler that provides a native app but it also makes use of packages like Capacitor or Cordova. With Ionic, to develop native-like apps is quite easy as here components can adapt automatically with the platform on which the app is running.

You will also find a complete set of built-in widgets with Flutter. There are some Cupertino-styles widgets too and they generally make use the Material Design. So without having to engage in much of manual styling, you can easily build attractive UIs using these widgets. As these widgets don’t automatically adapt, you will need to put in some efforts to have different looks build for different platforms.

You will find a good number of built-in components with React Native but the majority of them need to be styled so as to be used. Here you will find alternatives to be used on different platforms as they are non-adaptive. This means you will need to make some changes in the code based on the conditions when you choose to style and use widgets.

Performance

When you are choosing a mobile app development framework, performance remains as one of the top selection criteria. No doubt the performance of the app can depend on many factors which include how good the developer is with coding. However, here we will be looking at it from the perspective of runtime.

By invoking native components and APIs, React Native lets you build an application that comes with native look and feel.

As compared to other frameworks, Ionic makes use of different web technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS in order to develop hybrid mobile applications. In order to wrap the application in native cover, it makes us of third-party packages and plugins.

When it comes to offering better performance, Ionic and React Native do a good job. However, Flutter does it well as there is nothing like a transition to the native environment. Flutter has been developed using Dart language which is new and needs to be learned so as to develop an application. Currently, it is going through continuous improvements.

When we talk about these frameworks in terms of front-end environment or user interface design, they work in favor of the developer community by offering native-like experiences and high-quality.

User interface

It only takes a few seconds for the users to judge the app and so it is important to come up with engaging GUI which is easy to use too.

React Native can offer almost a native experience as it has modules associated with native UI controllers. Moreover, along with extensive UI elements, it makes use of ReactJS library to organize the UI development.

Ionic UI, on the other hand, just makes use of HTML and CSS to render everything and does not make use of any native elements. After that, to deliver a native mobile experience it applies Cordova. The framework also comes with some Angular components which offer the Ionic apps the native looks.

You can have the best user interfaces from Flutter. When it comes to performance and efficiency, the cross-platform apps from Ionic is considered to be better. However, if the app comes with more UI components and is heavy then it will lack in terms of responsiveness.

Development time

When it comes to building innovative apps, React Native is considered as a better framework. The reduced development time and the efficiency it offers make it the first and foremost choice of the developer community.

Flutter takes time to develop a mobile app but, it delivers quality in the end. Ionic is open-source in nature and here a single codebase can be used to develop applications both for Android and iOS. Here development speed can be increased and the app can be deployed virtually as it comes with engaging UI components to speed up the development.

Popularity and platforms

Compared to Ionic and Flutter, React Native is most popular and is used as a mobile app solution by many big names in the market which includes Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, Vogue, Walmart, Skype, Salesforce, and others.

Ionic, on the other side, is quite popular among mobile and web app developers as it is easy to learn. Sworkit, MarketWatch, Pacifica, and others have their applications developed on Ionic.

Flutter is new in the market but has managed to gain enough popularity within a very less amount of time. Google Ads, Hamilton Musical, Alibaba, and others have their applications developed on Flutter.

In short, it can be said that such frameworks do well in their respective areas and they are planning to get better over time.

Third-party libraries

What kind of third-party libraries are available? Can you find one which can easily help you add in the one feature you are looking for your app?

For logic, Ionic makes use of JavaScript but you can use Ionic with or without JavaScript too. In the case of Angular, it offers greater support. This means you will be able to benefit from such third-party ecosystems. Again, the ecosystem of Angular is big too. You will be able to resolve your project queries through packages on npm and through the thousands of threads present on Stackoverflow.

Tremendous growth has been experienced in the case of Flutter. Flutter has been seen to have a lot of third-party packages and libraries as well as, a lot of discussions have been taking place on Stackoverflow. Even being in its early years, Flutter has managed to have a strong and mature ecosystem.

In the case of React Native, it makes use of React and JavaScript and so you will have both their ecosystems available. Apart from that, React Native itself has managed to have a strong community with a vibrant ecosystem. This means you will find a large number of third-party packages and many discussions on Stackoverflow that can help you find the missing feature or functionality. Now, the drawback with React Native is that it only has core features included and so you will have to completely depend on the ecosystem to get the rest. Compared to the rest, its ecosystem is not strong and it is going through constant change. Moreover, the third-party plugins are not able to update itself with the changes in React Native.

Accessing native features of the device

It is general for the apps to need some kind of access to the native features available on the device like GPS or camera. So how easily can you get such access for the app easily especially in case of new features?

In order to get access to the native features of the device, Ionic makes use of Cordova or Capacitor, which is its own solution. In order to get access to common native device functionalities, it offers a good set of packages. You can even have native functionalities wrapped and placed within your code. Ionic plugins keep itself updating along with the updates of the platform.

Recently, Flutter came up with official packages for native features that are commonly needed to access the device. The ecosystem of Flutter is vibrant and here you can find different packages for any of the native features that you would like to access. In case there is a need, you can even write the native code and connect it.

Now in the case of React Native, you will find some built-in APIs and a set of third-party packages to access the native platform functionalities. However, you need to know that completely depending on the third-party packages is not a good idea as chances are there that the core maintainers of the package may stop working any time. This means you will not be able to receive the same kind of support for React Native just like in the case of NativeScript or Ionic.

Code execution and architecture

React Native:

React Native promotes just a single thing – “learn once, write everywhere.” This way you are saved from writing the codes separately for different platforms and yes, it saves you a lot of time and cost too.

React Native comes with features like Hot Reloading and native UI components which make it an effective tool for cross-platform app development. JavaScript is one of the architectural advantages which you will get in terms of React Native. You can build quality apps using React Native quickly as it offers you native capabilities through JavaScript and React.

Ionic:

Ionic promotes code reusability as it lets developers have the benefit of “one codebase, any platform.” Developers can easily build interactive applications in a very less amount of time as Ionic enjoys strong community support and comes with powerful features. Ionic can even be used along with JavaScript, Vue, React, or Angular.

Flutter:

Flutter is written in Dart programming language and is comparatively high in performance as the language is compatible and advanced. Its engine can connect with SDKs that are platform-specific and this gives the developers features that are rich, modern, and reactive to build amazing mobile applications.

Popular apps built on these platforms

Popular apps on React Native

• Facebook
• Pinterest
• Instagram
• Uber

Popular apps on Ionic

• Sworkit
• Pacifica
• Nationwide
• MarketWatch

Popular apps on Flutter

• Hamilton Musical
• Google Ads
• Alibaba
• Green Tea

Final Thoughts

So, here in this article, we have seen the comparison of different mobile app technologies like React Native, Flutter, and Ionic. We have seen how they performed in terms of different core comparison elements. It is hard to name a framework as the best one as choosing a platform may depend on different factors like application size, development time, budget, etc. So, based on what your project demands and how much you are capable to spend, you can choose the mobile app development framework that works in your best interest.

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