Ionic vs Flutter: How to make the right choice

Krunal Shah

Mar 02, 2021 | 8 min read

Ionic vs Flutter

If you wish to lead your genre of business in today’s tech realm, you need to have a big user base. In order to have a larger user base, you need to cross-platform apps that work seamlessly on both iOS and Android. Ionic and Flutter are the two leading frameworks used in the modern-day tech realm to build high-performing cross platform apps.

In case you are thinking there will be a lot of similarities between the working process of the leading cross platform app development frameworks, you are highly mistaken. Despite having the common goal of developing high performing apps, both the frameworks are inherently different.

Since 2018, when Flutter 1.0 got released, everyone was eager to know how it compares with Ionic and which platform would be the best for the developers. In this article, we have taken a closer look at both the outlines and the SDK’s (software development kit) to help the companies choose the best. Here we go!

Table of Content

Brief History of Ionic

Ionic

The first version of Ionic was created in 2013 by a team of three coders named Max Lynch, Adam Bradley and Ben Sperry. In the initial year, Ionic was built on AngularJS, but now you have more options. Currently you can select between Vue or AngularJS if you happen to be working on Ionic’s latest version. The latest and stable version of the Ionic cross platform app development framework was released on 25th July 2019.

Ionic SDK is compatible and easy to use and has all the other popular software development tools. It uses capacitor plugins and cordova to access host components like GPS and cameras. App developed through Ionic can be easily customized. In addition, their extensive international community supports developers during the app development process.

Brief History of Flutter

Flutter

As mentioned earlier, the first version of Flutter was released by Google in the year 2018. A competent cross platform app framework, Flutter is built with Dart and is used to develop beautiful apps for both Android and iOS. However, the desktop APIs of Flutter are still in its nascent stage and can be changed without warnings. Since it has been only three years, team at Flutter are still working on building strong web support.

The Flutter framework is similar to React as it has ‘hot reload’, 2D rendering engine, just in time compilation and other features. Moreover, it has pre-built widgets that allow quick assembly of a basic prototype.

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After going through their recent history, it is time to see what makes Ionic and Flutter different and what are their basic similarities.

Common features of Ionic and Flutter

Common features of ionic and flutter

Both the leading SDK’s share some common characteristics as their ultimate goal is to develop high-performing mobile apps.

  • Both SDK’s render offline access so the process of application development can be done in areas with limited internet availability.
  • Be it attractive design or impressive features or impressive client interfaces, both Ionic and Flutter provide the best for the developers
  • Mobile apps developed through Flutter and Ionic perform immaculately as compared to the other cross platform apps
  • There are native plugin libraries for native programming services and interfaces

Despite having a shared vision, both Ionic and Flutter have opposing philosophies when it comes to the application development process. In order to make the right choice, you need to understand these differences as well. We have gauged them on different parameters to make it easy to understand for you.

Code portability

Both Ionic and Flutter have a pretty hefty competition when it comes to app deployment across various desktop and mobile platforms.

If we look at Flutter, it has inherent limitations when it comes to web browsers but has appealing features related to mobile application development. In case you are looking for apps that require quick reload with Flutter, it might give you a tough time in web implementation.

Majority of Flutter’s portfolio is built on the fact that it helps in creating appealing iOS and Android apps. The USP of these apps are that they have a single codebase.

Since Ionic is built on the fundamentals based on web standards, it has an upper hand over Flutter. Be it developing apps for mobile, desktop or web, Ionic has a clear edge over Flutter. Thus if you are looking for a more flexible SDK, Flutter should not be your ideal choice.

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Seeing similar things with different viewpoints

If you are looking to build cross platform apps through Ionic, you will apply the tools that deliver great performance on mobile and desktop and especially on web. This is because the guiding principle of Ionic embraces open standards wherever it is possible.

Flutter on the other hand has a self-contained ecosystem. The ecosystem is not on right terms with the toolsets or standards which are found in the wide development world. Flutter is immaculate when it comes to cross platform mobile app development.

Therefore, businesses should understand their requirements well before zeroing down on the cross-platform development framework.

Skills and knowledge of the required field

One has to understand that Ionic is a JavaScript framework. Thus when it comes to knowledge and skills for a required field, the competition is immense between Ionic and Flutter.

Flutter is not based on JavaScript Framework. Thus, in order to work on Flutter, the developer needs to have a sound knowledge about Dart. But the real market situation is that there are only 1.9% Dart developers in the world. On the contrary, JS developers are dominating with a total market share of over 70%.

If you are aware of JavaScript, there are tons of JS frameworks for native development, web and mobile. Dart has its constraints as it has a highly-custom and standalone ecosystem. The ecosystem of Flutter teaches a developer to do things in only a certain way.

But when it comes to developing apps through Ionic, the developers don’t have any constraints. They don’t need to do things in a certain manner and learn to develop apps in general.

Sustainability being an important factor

When it comes to choosing between Flutter and Ionic, sustainability can be a vital factor.

Websites and mobile applications built on Ionic have better shelf-life as compared to Flutter. The reason behind it is simple. When you go with Ionic, you are choosing a wider platform as compared to Flutter. The wider platform assists the developers to have a steady and uniform script when it comes to cross-platform application development.

As Flutter has a highly-custom ecosystem, it is not possible to use it for variety of assortments. Dart offers very limited range; thus companies should be aware of this fact before choosing their cross-platform app development SDK.

Comparing the performance levels

Performance of any cross-platform application development platform depends on its efficiency levels.

In the tech realm, Flutter is known for its ability to develop and create original animations. These animations play a pivotal role enhancing the user experience and making the apps more engaging.

Ionic on the other hand uses front-end technologies to render the apps. As a result of it the end products built with Ionic SDK are slower as compared to those built using Flutter.

The main performance difference of Flutter vs Ionic has always been about the code. Moreover, the Flutter Vs Ionic performance also depends on the size of the application. If the bundle size is lower, the runtime will be faster. In the case of Flutter, it needs a heavy code to even create a basic app, while Ionic utilizes standard browser runtime.

The appearance to the eye

To define what is good between Flutter vs Ionic, native UI element utilization plays an important role.  Moreover, as far as the user is concerned, both Flutter and Ionic give a native look and feel.

Instead of utilizing the native UI elements, both Flutter and Ionic focus on updating the design elements automatically.

In addition, the developers can access the native APIs and platform services with both Ionic and Flutter without any hassle. This can be done through a library of pre-built plugins that comes with a set of tools to build custom plugins.

Native and Ionic rely on Cupertino and Material design for iOS and Android respectively.

Learning curve of the cross platform SDKs

Learning curve of the cross platform SDKs

Source: Statista

Ionic framework is comparatively easier to learn as compared to Flutter. You need to know Dart to understand Flutter while Ionic has web technologies which makes it easier to understand.

Moreover, with the support from Google, Flutter is growing as some of the best developers in the world are opting for it. Ionic is majorly used for graphical applications or gaming apps as it has wrapper plugins.

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A brief roundup of the battle between Ionic vs Flutter

Ionic vs flutter

To make it simpler for you, here is a quick round up of the Ionic Vs Flutter saga.

Flutter

  • It uses Dart Language
  • Has excellent mobile performance but poor web performance
  • It provides offline access and proprietary UI element widgets
  • It can be deployed on web, desktop and , mobile

Ionic

  • It uses HTML. JavaScript and CSS language
  • Has very good mobile performance and excellent website performance
  • It offers offline access and has standard-based web UI elements
  • It can be deployed on PWA, web, mobile desktop
TRT

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Conclusion

In case you are looking to embrace both web and mobile in equal proportion, Ionic holds an upper hand in the Ionic vs Flutter battle. As Flutter has a self-contained ecosystem, the developers will struggle to use the more common languages in the ubiquitous outer world.

In addition, sizes of the application, budget, time, etc are the other important factors when it comes to choosing a platform.

If you choose Flutter, you need to embrace and learn the Flutter way of doing things. On the other hand, Ionic will help you deliver high performance, irrespective of the platform.

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