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Flutter vs Ionic in 2023: Which is Best for Your App?

Feruza Saidkomolova


April 4, 2024

So, you have finalized your great idea and you’re ready to develop your next app or new project. The challenge now is choosing between Flutter and Ionic for developing cross-platform applications. We analyzed 100 software development companies using Flutter and Ionic to develop mobile applications in terms of six essential criteria:

  • App performance
  • Development speed
  • Quality assurance
  • Code reusability
  • App release
  • Hiring developers

You know that both of these frameworks are effective cross-platform app development tools, but let’s take a deep dive and compare these two options within the aforementioned criteria.

Why We Created This Article

At Ptolemay, we can develop cross-platform apps depending upon your project type, feature list, and business needs so you can successfully launch your app in accordance with your desired timeline. However, how do you decide on the right technology to use for your app?

According to 2021 statistics published in Statista, 42 percent of developers prefer Flutter to other cross-platform mobile frameworks, followed by Ionic’s 16% developer preference. Why is this, and how does it affect which one you should choose?

Our clients often have some specific questions when they reach out to us:

  • How can I compare Flutter vs. Ionic?
  • What factors are crucial when comparing Flutter and Ionic?
  • How should I consider Flutter vs. Ionic trends to ensure optimal prospective community support for my application?
  • Should I continue with native app development or choose cross-platform application development instead?

Our primary goal with this article is actually twofold. First we want to share a complete picture for when you evaluate each of these frameworks, but moreover, we want to enable you to decide if Flutter vs. Ionic is more suitable for your cross-platform development application so you can finish with the right technology that your app requires.

Let’s start by comparing Ionic and Flutter in 2023.

Table of Contents

  • What Is Flutter?
  • Flutter: Pros and Cons
  • Famous Apps Developed on Flutter
  • What Is Ionic?
  • Pros and Cons of Ionic
  • Famous Apps Developed on Ionic
  • Flutter vs. Ionic: Head-to-Head Comparison
  • The Future of Flutter and Ionic
  • Flutter vs. Ionic: Which one to choose for your app?

Exploring Flutter: A Comprehensive Overview for 2024

Flutter is an open-sourced, portable UI toolkit for building native-like apps for mobile, web, and desktop, based on a single code introduced into the development world by Google. It uses Dart and incorporates Material Design and Cupertino widgets. Using Flutter, developers can create stunning UI that looks and feels native. It works smoothly on any platform even though you use one codebase.

App Mockups

Flutter Unveiled: Advantages and Challenges

Every programming tool has pros and cons, and Flutter is no exception. However, the apparent advantages of using Flutter outweigh the list of disadvantages. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Pros of Flutter App Development

Pros of Flutter App Development

1. Single Codebase

Flutter allows you to create a single code for Android, iOS, and Windows platforms, significantly reducing development time and cost. It can help you launch your projects exponentially faster as compared with native app development. Moreover, reusable code allows developers to edit and add new features whenever they want.

2. Hot Reloading and Quick Testing

The hot reloading method lets you make changes without refreshing the entire application. This method reloads the file you’re working on, allowing you to continue working and making changes in real-time. The faster pace of hot reloading in Flutter reduces developing time since there is no need to reload the app to check every change you make while coding. These real-time changes free up more developing time and allow for more opportunities to test your code and fix bugs before the project launch.

3. Rich Libraries and Widgets

Flutter uses the Skia Graphics Library, a speedy and mature open-source graphics library which redraws the UI every time a view changes. This quick-loading and smooth app experience attracts and holds customers’ attention.

4. Future-Proof Your Apps

By enabling support across different platforms and ecosystems, you can prepare your business for the direction of the future. With Flutter, you can port your code to new mobile platforms and desktop environments or deploy it to the web to reach new users.

Developed by Google, Flutter also supports the company’s new Fuchsia operating system, which is still in the beginning stages of adoption. Flutter allows you to address the ever-changing aspects of application development proactively.

Cons of Flutter App Development

Below, you can learn about the limitations that our Ptolemay team experienced while working with Flutter.

1. Heavy Flutter App Files

Heavy files of an app may occupy a lot of space and take longer to download or update, especially while using many animated elements. However, Flutter is flexible, and there is always a way to make an app more lightweight without sacrificing the user experience.

2. System-Specific Feature Sets

Operating systems tend to implement changes over time, and there’s a required delay before they can reach the Flutter SDK. While few apps support groundbreaking new features from the first day, it’s essential to consider the extra time it will take to get to Flutter before users can see updates in your apps.

Flutter Success Stories: Notable Apps of 2024

The popularity of cross-platform applications is constantly growing. Flutter has been used to create apps for Google, Alibaba, BMW, eBay, Uber, and other leading companies. Since it is fast and low-cost, many small and large companies alike use Flutter to develop applications. You can view other cases here.

Companies that use Flutter

You can read more about why to choose Flutter in 2023 in this article.

Ionic Defined: An In-depth Look for Developers in 2024

Ionic Logo

Ionic is an open-source UI toolkit framework for building mobile, desktop, and web applications applying web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The Ionic framework concentrates on front-end user UX/UI interaction, which creates your app’s look and feel. The first beta version of the Ionic SDK was released in March 2014, so it has been around for a while now.

Ionic Analysis: Benefits and Limitations in the Current Year

Pros and Cons of Ionic App Development

Ionic has numerous mobile app development benefits, although it only comprises about 3.2 percent of the total mobile app market.

Pros of Ionic App Development

1. Developer-Friendly

Ionic works across platforms to build and deliver apps closely related to native iOS, Android, and desktop apps and progressive web apps that appear on the web. However, web developers are forced to rely on what they already know.

2. Native and Optimized Web Apps

Ionic uses native software development kits to deliver native application UI standards and device functionalities together, emulating UI principles of native apps. It provides all of the open web’s power and flexibility. Ionic app developers constantly update, test, and release new APIs that work for various apps. In developing an app with Ionic, you can apply front-end building blocks, familiar app icons, UI components, and many other features.

3. Platform-Specific Adaptive Style

Components are only styled to follow device guidelines. Depending on the platform, users can choose from different application styles. Ionic has several modes for a single platform, but you can override them in a global configuration. Ionic’s colors, themes, and global variables modes can change.

4. Various Integrations and Plug-ins

Ionic applications can be associated with various tools. Ionic’s website has an official list of integrated technologies including analyzers, payment systems, security, and testing tools.

Cons of Ionic Development

Ionic, like most things in life, is not bug-free. So, drawbacks of using Ionic:

1. Bothersome Debugging

Debugging Ionic applications can be time-consuming and difficult. Ionic keeps giving us nuke error notifications, and it can take time to pinpoint where the problem occurred.

2. Random Build Crashes

On Ionic, builds sometimes crash for no apparent reason. It occurs when something in the original folder is corrupted. The approach is to commit often and use different branches for different features. After the break, the repository can be cloned to a new folder, and the software will rebuild the app after running the npm install. This is a major downside due to how much time this process wastes.

3. Local Storage Vulnerability

Local storage is not publicly accessible, but local storage devices should not save sensitive data that others can readily exploit. A hacker would need physical access to the device or attack XSS and other vulnerabilities. Authentication services can help solve these challenges.

4. No Hot Reloading

Since Ionic does not support hot reloading and relies on live reloading, it takes much more time than Flutter. If you make changes to the app, you have to reload it for the changes to be reflected and shown. This means that the program must be restarted every time the developer makes a change. That might seem acceptable, but in regard to development speed, reloading your app every time you change code can really slow down the entire process. From a mobile app developer’s point of view, this is a major disadvantage because it is inconvenient.

5. Application Size

This issue is critical when it comes to performance. Developing an app with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript requires a lot of code and the addition of libraries, plugins, dependencies, and other components, all of which add weight to the program when compared to native ones:

To make your app smaller, you can decrease the size of icons and remove any unnecessary styles, fonts, and images.

Ionic’s Impact: Leading Apps and Projects

Ionic is a solution that has been successfully used in many projects. It proves to be a steady player in the cross-platform mobile app development sphere. Companies like Cisco, General Electric, NHS, and others develop apps on Ionic. More Ionic clients can be viewed here.

Companies that use Ionic

Flutter vs. Ionic: An Exhaustive Comparison for 2024

Both Flutter and Ionic have advantages and disadvantages, so a head-to-head comparison will help you pick a winner between Flutter vs. Ionic.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Performance

Flutter offers comparably better performance than Ionic. According to our findings, this relies on the bundle size of your application and since Flutter is less bulky, the performance is better overall. No bridge is required for communication between native modules, as native components are available by default. Performance testing shows that the “Hello World” app consistently runs at 60 FPS and takes only 16ms to render each frame, with fewer dropped frames. Flutter uses the Skia graphics library, which allows the user interface to dynamically redraw whenever the application view changes.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Development Time

Ionic uses pre-existing plug-ins, offering a hybrid approach that can speed up development. Comparing Ionic vs. Flutter performance, Ionic provides 60 FPS on desktop and mobile. However, the hot reload feature of Flutter gives a major leg-up over Ionic and reduces development time by 63% in our experience.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Quality Assurance

Testing an Ionic app is simple and can be integrated with web-based tools. You don’t need to use additional emulators or testing devices as the app is already tried and tested in varying browsers through WebView. Browsers offer inbuilt debugging and testing tools to make the testing process convenient. Moreover, Ionic CLI has all the functionalities for testing your web component.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Code Reusability

Flutter’s codebase is more reusable than Ionic’s, making Flutter win over Ionic regarding code reusability. Flutter allows you to change a single codebase line, define new logic, and reuse your codebase for different purposes. A highly intuitive and graphical coding interface facilitates this ability for reuse.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Release

Google has simplified the app release process for Flutter. From Fastlane deployment to automated approvals, Flutter’s approval process is very flexible. In contrast, Ionic’s sharing protocol is relatively standardized and manual.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Hiring Developers

Hiring a developer is one of your key challenges when developing an app. Let’s see which poses the stricter challenge in the Ionic vs. Flutter contest.

Flutter Developers vs. Ionic Developers: Rates

According to the world’s leading salary information website, Glassdoor, you will have to spend roughly $97,000 per year to hire a Flutter developer. However, an Ionic developer would charge around $100,000 per year. Thus, in a Flutter vs. Ionic contest, the cost of hiring developers is slightly higher for the Ionic framework.

The Future of Flutter and Ionic

Comparing the future of Ionic and Flutter provides some exciting insights from recent framework trends. In the last three years, from 2019 to 2021, Flutter has overtaken Ionic to become developers’ favorite cross-platform mobile application framework. Google has cultivated a passionate community supporting Flutter and regularly releases stable updates to the platform. With Flutter 3, the total number of Flutter-based apps has exceeded 500,000.

Some of the significant improvements in Flutter 3 include:

  • Support for desktop platforms
  • Support for international text inputs
  • Universal binaries on macOS
  • Support for foldable phones
  • The variable refresh rate for iOS
  • Faster image decoding on the web version

On the other hand, recent improvements with Ionic 6 include the following:

  • Easy upgrades
  • Faster, more reliable release cadence
  • Performance and tooling
  • Platform detection customization
  • TypeScript improvements

The Ionic community has been working to bring large-scale changes and improvements to Ionic. So, it is likely that Ionic will catch up in the Flutter vs. Ionic race sometime in the near future.

Flutter vs. Ionic: Which one to choose for your app?

Your Flutter and Ionic preferences depend on your app type and size. Here are some pointers to help you choose from Ionic vs. Flutter.

When to Use Flutter

  • The app is large and needs high performance
  • You want to reduce time to market
  • The app requires a lot of customization or specific tasks

When to Use Ionic

  • The project requires bringing existing web experiences, libraries, and other web code into an app
  • You want multi-platform assistance
  • You plan to reuse the codebase for a web app
Flutter vs. Ionic comparison table

These are just a few factors you should consider when choosing Flutter vs. Ionic, which is not easy. The seasoned developers at Ptolemay can always help you out.

Both frameworks have pros and cons depending on the use case and app types, which you should consider carefully before choosing Flutter vs. Ionic. Book a free call with Ptolemay to get expert feedback on your idea to develop a cross-platform app.

Navigating the 2024 Developer Landscape: Flutter vs. Ionic

As the cross-platform app development landscape continues to evolve in 2024, the decision between Flutter and Ionic is increasingly influenced by each framework's technical advancements, as well as the strength and support of their developer ecosystems. An active and supportive ecosystem not only enhances the development experience but also ensures access to a broad array of libraries, plugins, and tools.

1. Current Trends in Developer Ecosystems and Community Support
The vitality of the developer community remains a crucial factor in choosing between Flutter and Ionic. Flutter, with Google's backing, has seen its community flourish, marked by an upsurge in global meetups, online forums, and dedicated conferences. This vibrant community provides a solid foundation for troubleshooting, collaboration, and innovation.

Ionic's seasoned presence has fostered a strong network of web developers, offering rich documentation, an engaged forum community, and extensive third-party plugin support. This established ecosystem caters well to developers looking for a stable and versatile platform for app development.

2. Resources and Learning for Modern Developers
For developers at any level, access to contemporary learning materials and resources is essential. Flutter’s comprehensive guides, a wide range of widgets, and an ever-growing collection of tutorials cater to developers eager to adopt the latest in app development. Ionic, known for its appeal to web developers, offers targeted resources that ease the transition to mobile and progressive web app (PWA) development.

3. Contribution and Expansion of Plugin Ecosystem
The open-source nature of both Flutter and Ionic encourages contributions that enhance their ecosystems. Flutter's widget-centric approach and Ionic's emphasis on web component libraries benefit from the community’s innovations, broadening their appeal and functionality.

4. Anticipating the Future: Innovations and Platform Evolution
Looking ahead, Flutter’s alignment with emerging technologies and platforms, including Google's Fuchsia OS and expansion into desktop and embedded device applications, signals a commitment to innovation. Ionic continues to play a critical role in the advancement of PWAs, leveraging its web technology foundation to remain at the forefront of this growing trend.

Strategic Considerations for 2024:
Beyond technical comparisons, considering the dynamism of Flutter and Ionic's ecosystems, the breadth of resources, and their alignment with future technology trends is essential for developers and businesses planning their next project. These factors are key to unlocking the full potential of cross-platform development in the current year and beyond.

Empower Your Development Journey: Explore Flutter and Ionic’s Ecosystems in 2024

Delve deeper into how evolving developer communities, open-source contributions, and the forward-looking innovations of Flutter and Ionic can guide your choice for your upcoming app development endeavor.