React Native vs. Xamarin vs. Ionic vs. Flutter: Which is best for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development?

While developing Native Mobile Apps, Android apps are written in Java, and iOS ones in Swift and Objective-C. No doubt, this approach delivers apps that are flawless and high performing. But, the development path this approach follows is quite time-consuming and expensive because the same code must be written twice. So, what is the solution to get the things done in a seamless way without investing a lot of resources? The answer is: Cross-platform Mobile App Development.

The approach enables developers to write the code once and apply a few sections of it over all the platforms to save the development time. But, the apps this approach delivers lack somewhere in performance when compared with fully native apps developed using native languages.

Therefore, to remove this line of difference between native and cross platform mobile apps, the app development communities are striving hard to develop new frameworks and tools that can not only compete with native apps but also have the potential to win the game. Xamarin, React Native, Ionic and Flutter are popular examples of such tools.

In this blog, we will compare these tools to find out their purpose, the qualities that make them different from one another and the best one that you should choose. So, let’s dive in.

Top 8 Attributes to Consider While Selecting the Platforms for Cross-platform Mobile App Development

To decide which one is better for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development lets first define the attributes based on which we will compare all of the above. And, these are:

  • The Language Stack
  • Performance
  • User Interface
  • Market and Community
  • Supported Platforms
  • Code Sharing
  • Popular Apps
  • Pricing

The Comparison: React Native vs. Xamarin vs. Ionic vs. Flutter

1. The Language Stack

Let’s see which framework utilizes which programming languages and offer what benefits:

React Native: It utilizes JavaScript which is at present one of the most popular, dynamic and high-level programming language. It combines the advantages of JavaScript and React.JS, and is sponsored by Facebook.

The solid side of React Native that makes it best among the other three frameworks in terms of PL is that it allows writing a few components in Swift, Objective-C or Java when developers require them. Utilizing native modules and libraries in React Native applications, you can manage computationally heavy operations like video handling or image editing.

Xamarin: It utilizes C# with .net environment to develop Android, iOS and Mac applications. Anything that can be accomplished with native languages, a developer can do in C# utilizing Xamarin. However, developers can’t utilize native open-source libraries accessible for iOS and Android with Xamarin, there is a variety of .net libraries accessible that fills the coveted need.

IONIC: It uses HTML5, CSS, and JS to develop and run applications, and requires Cordova wrapper to access native platform controllers. Utilizing IONIC, you can also use TypeScript that improves the quality of the code.

Flutter: It utilizes Dart to develop high-quality applications for Android, iOS and the web. Dart is an amazing Programming language that offer plenty of benefits and is based on C/C++ and java. Despite being new, the language is soon expected to take the industry by storm.

Here is how you can rank these frameworks based on the advantages offered by their programming languages:

2. Performance

This attribute is the most important one and speaks for itself – how do the apps made in different frameworks perform from a run-time performance perspective?

React Native: The performance it provides is very similar to native applications as it renders code elements specifically to the native APIs. React additionally allow developers to use native modules written in native languages to write code for complicated operations. However, they can’t be reused across two platforms; their main purpose is to provide higher performance.

Xamarin: Xamarin performance is also considered as being closed to native. Xamarin has two ways to build mobile applications and that is Xamarin.Android/Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Forms.

Xamarin.Android/iOS applications perform like native because their cross-platform capacities are focused essentially around sharing business rationale rather than codebase. It helps achieve the native performance that isn’t possible with solutions that interpret code at runtime.

However, Xamarin.Forms approach is centered on broad code sharing with less platform-specific behavior. This altogether decreases code performance in numerous operations compared to different platforms.

Ionic: In terms of performance, Ionic looses the game. Its performance isn’t as similar to native as Xamarin, React Native or flutter offers since it utilizes web technologies to render an application. This approach significantly decreases the speed. Also, it doesn’t utilize native components, and tries to create native look and feel by using web technologies.

The upside of Ionic is its quick testing process that runs instantly in a browser that streamlines the development process.

Flutter: When compared on the basis of app performance, it is the Flutter that takes the crown over its competitors.  Because it has advantages of Dart and there is no JavaScript bridge for starting interactions with the device native components, the speed it offers is amazing.

Here is how you can rank these frameworks based on the performance they offer:

3. Graphical User Interface

Users judge apps within the first few seconds of usage and that’s why GUI of an app must be engaging while being easy – let’s see what these framework offers:

React Native: React Native modules associate with native UI controllers, which gives amazing user experience that is very close to native apps. It additionally utilizes the ReactJS library with extensive UI elements and streamlines the UI development.

Xamarin: It enables you to make the UI in two different ways: utilizing Xamarin.Android/iOS or Xamarin.Forms. The first takes much time, but guarantees native look and feel in terms of UX.

With Xamarin.Forms you can make the development process significantly quicker and spare a lot of resources but at the cost of local look and feel. It can be a good solution for internal and corporate ventures, where the UI part isn’t as essential as in the public applications.

Ionic: Ionic UI doesn’t utilize native elements at all and renders everything in HTML and CSS. Then it applies Cordova to give native mobile experience. Angular components that accompany the framework also enable Ionic apps look like the native ones.

Flutter: Flutter provides the best User Interfaces. No doubt Ionic and Xamarin give us cross platform apps but their efficiency and performance cannot beat Flutter and React Native. They stuck and lack in responsiveness if app is heavy and more native UI components are used.

Here is how you can rank these frameworks based on the UI they offer:

4. Market and Community

Having a dynamic ecosystem is something worth being thankful for – but it matters how popular is an option? Let’s see:

React Native: React Native is the king when it comes to market and community recognition. The network of its developers is quickly growing and as of now has many experienced React Native Engineers. This makes it easy to kick start a React project. It utilizes an amazingly popular library (React) and the most essential web development language (JavaScript) and provides real native applications. These qualities make it a strong platform and are the reasons behind its fame.

Ionic: It is the second most popular framework after React. It empowers developers to build native mobile apps in the fastest possible way.

Xamarin: Xamarin is also a quiet popular framework. And, still Microsoft is putting a lot of efforts into growing the Xamarin community. Developers who work inside the Microsoft ecosystem can without much of a stretch begin working with the innovation because of its active support.

Flutter: Flutter is a new framework for community right now and not very popular. But, it’s intensely advertised by Google that shows they want to make it a major thing in mobile world. Whilst it still has some tingle points, using it is fun and you can go rapidly from idea to prototype to app.

Here is how you can rank these frameworks based on their industry recognition and reliability:

5. Supported Platforms

React Native: Android 4.1+ , iOS 8+

Xamarin: Android 4.0.3+ , iOS 8+ , Window 10

Ionic: Android 4.4+ , iOS 8+ , Windows 10

6. Code Reusability

With this Attribute, you will get an idea of how much of the code you write can be re-used for both platforms which is the main purpose of these frameworks.

React Native: The framework uses native components written in Objective-C, Swift or Java to enhance the app performance. But, these native components can’t be reused over other platforms. So, developers need to do a little work for changing this particular codebase. However, accept these native components whatever is left of the codebase (around 90%) can be re-used.

Xamarin: It doesn’t require switching between the developments environments: all Xamarin applications are developed in Visual Studio. Usually, up to 96 percent of source code can be reused with Xamarin.Forms that speeds up the development process.

Ionic: An essential part of the applications developed in Ionic is their universality. Whatever the OS given, they will work similarly well on every one of them. But, some UI components need to be changed to the rules dictated by a particular platform, which will require extra efforts.

Flutter: In react Native, we have ready-to-use functions, which accelerates the speed of development. However, in Flutter, we need to add dedicated files for both Android and iOS platform depending upon their rules.

Here is how you can rank these frameworks based on their code reusability:

Popular Apps

React Native: Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, UberEats

Xamarin: Olo, the World Bank, Storyo.

Ionic: JustWatch, Pacifica, Nationwide and many more.

Flutter: Hamilton

7. Pricing

React Native and Flutter: Both are completely open source frameworks. Engineers can utilize these system and their libraries for free.

Xamarin: Xamarin requires developers to install IDE, which is provided on a subscription basis. However, it also offers a free edition for students and non-enterprise ventures with up to 5 users.

Ionic: It is a free open source framework for developing cross platform mobile applications. But, the organization offers its Pro version which is paid. The company guarantees that Ionic Pro accelerates development process.

Final Words

For Cross-Platform Mobile App Development, all the four frameworks have gained reliability among organization aiming to decrease the time and expenses of app development. Each of the four frameworks can be useful, depending upon your priorities and business needs. If you want to analyze which platform will cater to your needs for developing your business app in the best possible way, get a free quote here!

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