Over the last few years, Flutter has taken the app development world by storm. Today, mainstream apps such as New York Times, NuBank, MyBMW and Realtor.com among others have gone full in with Flutter. Startups are embracing Flutter as their go-to tech stack for building fully functional native apps. Flutter is well known for its cross-platform functionality, faster development cycle and a wide availability of rich UI elements. 

When comparing Flutter with native tech stacks, such as Swift and Kotline, Flutter does have a few drawbacks with its large app size, performance issues, and some limitations on native libraries. Using Flutter for app development comes with several advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using Flutter for your next app.

PRO: Cross-Platform Development

Flutter allows you to write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, web, desktop (Windows, macOS, Linux), and even embedded systems. This cross-platform capability can significantly reduce development time and costs by enabling you to easily target a broader audience through a single codebase. Platform management is also simplified with just one code base!

PRO: Hot Reload

Flutter’s Hot Reload feature allows developers to instantly see the effects of code changes in the app’s interface without restarting the entire application. This speeds up development, enhances productivity, and makes it easier to iterate new designs and features. When apps require hundreds to thousands of deployments, your dev team will appreciate this.

PRO: Rich User Interface (UI) Customization:

Flutter provides a rich set of widgets and tools for building highly customizable and visually appealing user interfaces. Its widget-based architecture allows you to compose complex UIs by combining smaller, reusable widgets together. Additionally, Flutter provides a wide range of pre-designed Material Design and Cupertino (iOS) widgets, making it easy to create platform-specific interfaces. You won’t get this type of experience with other cross-platform frameworks. If needed, you can also create custom widgets or modify existing ones to match your app’s unique design requirements. This flexibility ensures that you can create stunning and unique user interfaces tailored to your project’s needs. Additionally, your app won’t fall flat when offering a native experience to end users.

CON: Larger App Sizes

Flutter apps tend to have larger file sizes compared to natively developed apps due to the Flutter engine and framework libraries. This can be a concern for users with limited storage space on their devices and slower download and installation times, particularly in regions with slow internet connections.

CON: Performance Optimization

While Flutter offers excellent performance for most applications, achieving optimal performance can be challenging in certain cases. Developing complex animations or accessing platform-specific APIs may require additional effort and expertise. Flutter’s reliance on a Skia graphics engine can also introduce occasional performance variations on certain devices. Therefore, it can be difficult to find developers with the expertise to pull off some of the more intricate UI interactions.

CON: Limited Native Libraries

Flutter may lack some native libraries and APIs that are readily available in platform-specific languages like Swift for iOS or Kotlin for Android. While Flutter provides plugins and packages to access many device features, there may be occasional limitations or delays in accessing the latest platform features. A Flutter expert can help identify these limitations and can build a strategy around navigating them.

The Bottom Line / TLDR

Whether Flutter is the right choice for your app development project depends on your specific requirements, the target platforms, and your team’s expertise. Flutter offers significant advantages in cross-platform development, rapid iteration, and customizable UI. However, don’t forget about the potential downsides, such as app size and performance challenges, before committing to Flutter. Reach out to Uplancer and let us help you determine whether Flutter is ideal for building your next app.

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I'm Abhi and I help entrepreneurs and startups build apps and digital solutions. I like to talk about how startups can build simple, effective and scalable solutions without breaking their bank - something, we affectionately refer to as "Digital Common Sense". Follow me on LinkedIn.

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