Last Updated on
May 11, 2024

Flutter vs Swift

Published in
Key takeaways:

You can build great apps with both Flutter and Swift, but which is better? Which should you choose for your own apps? 

The short answer:

You should choose Swift if you want to create very high performance apps for iOS, like demanding games and cutting edge use cases. If you want to build apps for iOS and Android, and your requirements are not extreme, you should probably choose Flutter. 

Now for the long answer, in this article we’re going to break down the key differences, advantages and drawbacks of each. 

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a cross-platform framework created by Google. It’s cross-platform because it lets developers write apps for iOS and Android from a single codebase - which then compiles into native code for each platform. 

Flutter uses the Dart programming language and a rich library of widgets to construct intuitive and rich UIs for a vast range of app types. 

You can read about Flutter in much more depth in our Flutter 101 guide, in this article we’re mostly going to focus on comparing it with Swift. 

What is Swift?

Swift is a programming language created by Apple designed for the iOS and MacOS ecosystems, as well as Apple Watch and TV applications. 

Swift - the language of iOS

Swift is used to build native iOS apps, and is known for its high performance and ability to tightly integrate with the hardware of Apple devices. 

Flutter vs Swift - key differences

Swift and Flutter are quite different technologies with a different purpose. Let’s compare them on a few different criteria.   

Programming Language vs Framework 

Swift is a programming language but Flutter is a framework that enables cross-platform development with the Dart programming language. 

Flutter uses Dart, a language developed by Google for both mobile and web development. It’s a C like language suited to a declarative programming style - making it suitable for teams with experience of similar paradigms. 

Swift and Flutter - different programming languages

Swift on the other hand, is a language created by Apple specifically for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS app development. Swift is known for its clarity, efficiency, and safety, making it a preferred choice for developers aiming for native Apple platform applications.

Native vs cross-platform performance

Flutter has great performance thanks to its ability to compile directly to native code, setting it ahead of some other cross-platform frameworks that “bridge” to native. It is used in countless high-end apps and can give a great level of performance. 

However, the highest possible level of performance comes from the native languages of the platform themselves. 

Swift can (potentially) offer the ultimate speed and performance for iOS development, which could be necessary if your app is a high end game or very computationally demanding. 

Ecosystem

Flutter has an established and growing community and ecosystem, thanks to its cross-platform flexibility and the backing of Google. Its widget library is very extensive and documentation is thorough. 

Swift's community is very mature and well-established, particularly for developers focused on Apple's ecosystem. Apple's continuous updates and the language's popularity have spawned a huge range of resources, from libraries and frameworks to tutorials and professional support. 

Investment

When it comes to cost, Flutter is generally seen as the cheaper option. This is usually in the context of developing apps for both iOS and Android and the expensive nature of developing and maintaining two separate native codebases. 

If you only want to build iOS apps, there is nothing inherently more expensive about using Swift - although this will depend on a wide range of factors. 

Flutter vs Swift - which should you choose?

A key consideration is that Swift is only for iOS development. Do you only want to release mobile apps for iPhone users?

Some apps have gone that route, like Clubhouse, Overcast and Apollo. iPhone exclusive apps are a good way to specifically target a more wealthy, US-centric audience. 

But most apps these days cast a wider net and enter the massive Android market too. 

With Swift, you’d need to develop Android apps completely separately in the tech stack native to the Android OS. Flutter on the other hand would let you develop iOS and Android apps from the one single codebase. 

Let’s look more closely at the ideal use cases of each. 

When to use Flutter

There are some situations where Flutter is the clear choice over Swift.

  1. Cross-platform Development: If your aim is to launch on both Android and iOS with a single codebase, Flutter it is. 
  2. UI-Focused Apps: for apps where a custom, aesthetically pleasing user interface is the most important thing, Flutter's widget-based architecture allows for flexible and fast development compared with native 
  3. MVP and Rapid Prototyping: startups looking to quickly validate an idea will like Flutter’s developer productivity features and fast development cycles 
  4. Applications with Limited Native Integration: if you don’t need to interface very deeply with the native features of iOS and Apple hardware, Flutter will be great

When to use Swift

Swift really still shines over Flutter in a few scenarios. 

  1. iOS-exclusive apps: Swift is built for high-performance, robust iOS applications. If your target audience exclusively uses Apple devices, using Swift is the gold standard
  2. High-performance: apps that require very high performance and speed, such as advanced games or intensive computational apps, will see better performance from Swift
  3. Apple ecosystem features: projects that need to integrate with the Apple ecosystem (e.g., iMessage apps, Apple Watch extensions) will love Swift’s deep integration with Apple’s native APIs and SDKs

Flutter vs other platforms 

We compared Flutter with several other app development options as part of this series. 

Check out how it compares to:

For now, let's wrap up our discussion of Flutter vs Swift.

Flutter vs Swift - the bottom line 

In summary - use Swift if you want to build iOS exclusive apps, apps that deeply integrate with Apple’s ecosystem, or apps that are very computationally demanding. 

Use Flutter if you want to build more UI focused apps, for both iOS and Android, from a single codebase. 

We also want to share our own platform, MobiLoud, and how it can be better than either Swift or Flutter for the right business. 

MobiLoud - the best alternative to both 

Building apps with Swift or Flutter is no joke. It will cost $100k+ and take many months of work to get launched, and a serious ongoing investment to keep the apps updated and maintained. 

We built MobiLoud to bring down the barriers to app development. 

MobiLoud builds both iOS and Android apps from your existing website or web app. 

You already did the hard work building for the web, we take that and convert it into native app form, adding in all the necessary features and UX elements to ensure the apps are a powerful asset to your business and a great experience for your users. 

Convert your existing site or web app with MobiLoud

It works perfectly for eCommerce stores, web apps, elearning platforms, content sites - and a wide range of other businesses. Check out some of the 2000+ brands that use MobiLoud for their apps today. 

With MobiLoud, you can get apps in just weeks, for a fraction of the cost of Swift or Flutter. 

There’s no risk, and nothing for you to do on the technical side - our team builds the apps for you, publishes them on the App Store and Google Play, and maintains and updates them forever. 

You can just focus on your core web business and using the apps strategically - they will effectively run themselves. 

So there you go - if you already have an established presence on the mobile web, MobiLoud blows Swift or Flutter out of the water in terms of convenience and potential ROI. 

To learn more and get all your questions answered - get in touch with one of our app experts and let's start building your App Store presence. 

Book a demo call today.

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