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

viplavzenesys profile image Viplav Singh Originally published at zenesys.com Updated on ・6 min read

When mobile app development is concerned, there are two types of apps: Android and iOS. While android apps are developed using Java, iOS uses Swift and Obj-C for its development. All these apps are made with the aim of having a very high-performance quotient.

But, if we look at the path in which the apps are developed, it is evident that the path is very time-consuming and costly. This is because the same code is required to be written twice. The answer to this is cross-platform app development. This concept lets the developers write one piece of code that works on both platforms. Additionally, it goes without saying that it saves a lot of time.

The only concern with this approach is that the apps don’t perform as well as the native apps. Somewhere along the line, they fail to deliver the performance compared to the native mobile apps. To address this, the development communities are trying to develop tools that remove the distinction between cross-platform and native mobile apps.

The tools that qualify into this list are Xamarin, React Native, Ionic, and Flutter. In this blog, we look at the comparison of all four tools and see which one is the best choice.

Fundamental characteristics to consider while selecting the tools for Cross-platform mobile app development:

When you are eyeing cross-platform mobile app development, you need to find the right tool that helps you with the development. But how do you define which tool is perfect? The following characteristics define the tool which lets you determine the tool correctly.

a. Language Stack
b. Performance
c. User Interfaced.
d. Supported platforms
e. Popular applications

Let us take a look at each attribute and compare Flutter vs React Native vs Ionic vs Xamarin:

1. Language Stack:

Let us take a look at the languages used by each platform and the benefits of each of them.

React Native: React Native uses JavaScript which is by far, the most dynamic, popular, and high-performance language. React Native combines the benefits of JavaScript and React.JS and is also sponsored by Facebook.

The best part of working with React Native is that among all the three frameworks, it allows the developer to write the pieces of code in Swift, Obj-C, or Java whenever required. If you want to handle heavy operations in your app, you get access to native modules and libraries in apps based on React Native.

Xamarin: When it comes to React Native vs. Xamarin, Xamarin combines the best of C# and .NET to develop Android, iOS and Mac applications. While building something using native languages, a developer can accomplish it using C# and Xamarin.

The developers cannot use native open-source libraries which are accessible for iOS, Android, and Xamarin. To meet such requirements, the developers can use various .NET libraries and fill the gap.

Ionic: Ionic uses HTML5, CSS, and JS for developing and running mobile applications. They require Cordova wrapper to gain access to native platform controllers. When you are working with Ionic, the quality of the code is of utmost importance. Hence, it is possible to use TypeScript to improve the quality of the code.

Flutter: When you are looking to build high-quality applications, you should use Flutter which uses Dart for Android and iOS app development. Dart is a PL that offers various benefits and is based on C/C++ and Java. Because of Dart, the developers use Flutter to develop numerous apps.

2. Performance:

Performance is the most important factor to consider when it comes to mobile apps. So how do the apps perform when different frameworks are used? Let us see.

React Native: It provides the apps with a performance similar to native apps. This is because it takes up elements of the code which are specific to React Native APIs. When the developer wants to script code for very heavy and complex operations, React Native lets the developer use native modules.

These native modules are scripted using the native languages which makes it easier for the developers to access. But the only disadvantage with this is, it cannot be reused for other platforms. These native modules only offer high performance.

Xamarin: Xamarin offers performance similar to native. You can build mobile applications in two ways using Xamarin: Xamarin. Android/Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Forms.

The apps developed using Xamarin.Android/iOS work similar to native apps. The cross-platform functioning ability with these apps is focused not around the codebase of the app, but on the business rationale. With Xamarin, it is possible to achieve performance similar to native apps.

Xamarin.Forms works with the concept of broad code sharing which is less platform-specific. This tends to decrease the performance of the code in various operations and executions.

Ionic: Ionic does not stand up to the standards, Xamarin has to offer. It does not offer performance similar to native apps. In this comparison of Ionic vs React Native vs Flutter, Xamarin offers amazing performance. This is because these tools use web technologies to render the app. But, this approach tends to bring down the speed.

When it comes to app development using Ionic, it does not use native components but it offers an appearance similar to native apps. This is done using web technologies. The benefit of using Ionic is that the testing of the apps is a rapid process. This streamlines the entire process of app development.

Flutter: Flutter wins the game when it is compared to other tools mentioned here. It offers amazing speed since it gets advantages from Dart. Also, JavaScript is not used to bridge the interaction with device native components.

3. User Interface:

The apps are judged by the users within the moments of usage. That is why the user interface should be easy and should offer a lot of user engagement.

React Native: The modules of React Native work in tandem with native UI controllers which offers a better user experience that is similar to native apps. It also makes use of ReactJS libraries and UI elements which consolidates the UI development.

Xamarin: You can develop the UI using Xamarin.Android/iOS or Xamarin.Forms. The former method consumes a lot of time but offers a look and feel similar to native apps as far as the UX is concerned.

When you use Xamarin.Forms, the development process becomes easier and consumes less time. But, this development does not guarantee the look and feel that is similar to the native apps. This kind of development must be preferred by internal corporate ventures where the UI is of very little importance.

Ionic: Ionic does not apply native elements and renders the UI using HTML and CSS. Above that, it applies Cordova to offer a native look and feel. This is also applicable when Angular components work with the framework.

Flutter: When it comes to the user interface, Flutter is known to provide the best. When it comes to Flutter vs. React Native, the efficiency and performance offered by the two, are amazing. But, Ionic and Flutter work in tandem to provide cross-platform apps.

4. Supported Platforms:

React Native: Android 4.1+, iOS 8+

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

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

5. Popular Applications:

React Native: Facebook, Instagram, UberEats, Airbnb, and more.

Xamarin: Olo, The World Bank, Storyo

Ionic: JustWatch, Pacifica, Nationwide, and more.

Flutter: Hamilton

Wrapping it Up

Cross-platform app development, performance, and efficiency are the basic parameters that offer an insight into how usable the app is. This blog compares the factors based on the comparison of Ionic vs. Flutter along with other tools. Also, React Native vs. Ionic comparison also offers meaningful insight for mobile app development.

Discussion (2)

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Martin Jablečník • Edited

Hello, nice article :) But I have some a little questions and supplements:
1)

Dart is a PL that offers various benefits and is based on C/C++ and Java

What means the PL shortcut and why do you thing that it is based on Java?
What I know so Dart is maybe remotely similar to Java or JavaScript but not based..
2) In supported platforms you have missing the Flutter
3) Flutter have more popular applications then only Hamilton:
itcraftapps.com/blog/19-apps-built...
flutter.dev/showcase
for example: Google products (Stadia, Google Ads, Google Assistant), Reflectly, ebay motors, Baidu, Hookle and others..
4)

Also, JavaScript is not used to bridge the interaction with device native components.

Instead of this sentence you can describe it into more details that Flutter is not using any bridges but instead of it uses Skia library for rendering all own components.(Similar as WebView in Ionic or Cordova project but in dramatically better performance..).

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Jay Baer

Thank you for the wonderful post. Really liked your content.