Flutter vs. Ionic: Which Cross-Platform Framework To Use in 2023

Ruslan Zaripov

Flutter vs. Ionic: Which Cross-Platform Framework To Use in 2023

When developing a multi-platform application, there are many frameworks to help you get started. Two you might consider are Flutter or Ionic. In this blog, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between Flutter vs Ionic to help you decide which to use for app development.

Ionic is an already popular framework, which brings web technologies to app development. It has a huge amount of third-party libraries and the possibility to integrate React, Angular, and Vue. Meanwhile, Flutter is a quite young player, which shows fast-growing popularity. It uses its own approach in multiplatform development based on the 2D graphic engine.

Numerous decisions must be taken before kickstarting developing a mobile app, and picking the right tech stack is the most crucial. The moment you bet on a particular approach, technology, or framework is when you agree on specific business implications. It is better to be fully aware of them in advance.

Flutter vs Ionic Overview

Back in the days when mobile apps had just come into the spotlight, there was no discussion. The only available path of development involved using native mobile technologies specifically for a particular platform - Swift and Objective-C for iOS, and Java or Kotlin for Android. Although providing the best technical possibilities, superb performance, and unlimited ways of shaping unique user experience, this option required separate development efforts for each platform, leading to significantly higher app development costs. 

Therefore, the search for solutions that would lower the entry threshold to the mobile world was started immediately, and the cross-platform frameworks became the most promising direction. Developing mobile apps that can run on multiple platforms using a single codebase reduced the time and cost of development and - as in the case of JavaScript frameworks in the past - resulted in a flood of such tools.

React Native, Flutter, and Ionic found themselves among the most popular ones in 2022, but in this article, we will cover the two latter.

  flutter logo ionic logotype blue



Drifty Co

Initial release



Usage share in 2021 (source)

42% (1st)

16% (4th)

Written in


HTML, CSS, JavaScript


Custom graphics engine

Web browser


New BSD License



Mobile, Desktop, Web, PWA

Mobile, Desktop, Web, PWA

UI elements

Proprietary widgets

Standard-based web components


Flutter SDK

Npm module

Popular applications

eBay Motors, Google Play, Google Ads

MarketWatch, Sanvello, Sworkit Fitness & Workout App

Offline access



Best performance



What is Flutter - Overview

Flutter is an open-source framework that provides us with the opportunity to create multi-platform apps. It was created by Google and uses the Dart programming language.

The main idea behind this framework is a fast building of UI with comparative to native by its looks and performance both. Instead of all regular ways of building cross-platform and multi-platform applications in other frameworks, Flutter doesn’t use any bridges, native or web components. Instead, it uses the Skia graphic engine to render the whole UI.

It also supports communication with native features of the target platform through platform channels. At the current moment, Flutter allows us to write apps for the iOS, Android, Web, macOS, Windows, and Linux platforms.

As an open-source framework, Flutter provides developers with an SDK (Software Development Kit) to build high-performance mobile apps for iOS and Android and a UI library with reusable buttons, text inputs, widgets, and sliders that enable devs to create a personalized user interface.

Flutter is built with Dart, a programming language also developed by Google, and that is its main differentiator that implies further consequences. How does it work? Dart compiles code of Flutter-based app code into native machine code for the target platform - Android or iOS allowing performance comparable to native apps. 

Dart can also be used for web development, and so using Flutter and Dart, developers can make a single codebase that can be used for both mobile apps and web development. It significantly optimizes the development process making it more cost- and time-efficient to develop and maintain the product. Since there is one codebase, updates require developers to make changes in one place instead of multiple instances.

What is Ionic - Overview

Ionic is an open-source framework for building cross-platform apps using web technologies - HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It has the possibility of integration with React, Angular, and Vue.

It makes the framework easy for developers with web experience. Cordova is responsible for the native features of a target platform. As a result, we have an application that uses web views for its layouts.

uses traditional web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and - to cover native-like features and access device features such as a camera, accelerometer, and geolocation - it uses Apache Cordova. Combined, Cordova and Ionic provide a framework for developing cross-platform mobile applications with pre-built UI components.

Ionic, used mainly and known mainly as a cross-platform framework, can also be successfully used in web development for building Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). These web pages "on steroids" can run in a web browser but also be "pinned" to the mobile home screen, work offline and access some native device features.

You can also use it for iOS, Android, Web, macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Flutter vs Ionic Comparison

Popularity and community

jetbrains cross-platform frameworks popularity

Source: JetBrains

When it comes to popularity, Flutter is the most used cross-platform mobile framework, according to a 2021 JetBrains survey. Ionic is in fourth place in the developers’ community.

When we are talking about community, we know that both frameworks are open source, which means that everybody can impact and try to contribute to it. We can see all statistics for contributions to Flutter and Ionic repositories.

Here we can take a look at the contributional flow of Flutter: contributional flow of Flutter on GitHub

As for Ionic:

Flutter and Ionic repositories on GitHub

Source: Flutter and Ionic repositories on GitHub

While the number of commits for Flutter has grown between 2019 and 2022, Ionic’s repository seems not so active and its peaks were in 2016 and 2018.

Also, we can see these activities when taking a look at pull requests and issues statistics for the last month.


Flutter repository on GitHub

Source: Flutter repository on GitHub


Ionic repository on GitHub

Source: Ionic repository on GitHub

Third-Party Integrations

Each of the frameworks provides an opportunity to create and use third-party libraries.

Flutter has its own pub.dev website where you can find each library released by community members. Here is an example of a common library page there:

pub.dev webpage screenshot

Source: pub.dev

Ionic uses the well-known NPM package manager, and here is an example of a library page:

ionic on npm webpage screenchot

Source: NPM

Famous Use Cases

The Flutter team provides us with a cool page on their official website with the most popular use cases of Flutter! There are a lot of cool and interesting projects to take a look at, such as:

eBay Motors iOS Android

eBay Motors App Flutter

Google Pay iOS Android

Google Ads iOS Android

Also, they have a YouTube channel where we can find the interesting playlist “Flutter in action”. There we can check out some histories of small start-ups, just interesting and unusual usage of Flutter, etc.

Ionic also has its own page with interesting examples. Here are a few most popular ones:

MarketWatch iOS Android

Sanvello iOS Android

Sworkit Fitness & Workout App iOS Android

At the time of writing, Ionic didn’t have any official YouTube channels comparable to Flutter’s.


To compare performance, it would be nice to have a deeper look into the idea of how these frameworks work.

Performance issues are typically not easy to address and they are affected by numerous code-related factors, so it would be a simplification to point out one silver bullet able to address them once-for-all. Thus, comparing a performance achieved with Flutter and Ionic, several aspects must be taken into account. 

Flutter, built with a compiled language, theoretically, offers better performance than Ionic, made with JavaScript, which is an interpreted language. Why? Interpreted languages' code is "translated" into machine code line by line at runtime. Thus, the bigger codebase is, the more time takes to execute it. Compiled languages compile the code into machine code ahead of time, not at runtime. The differences are, however, visible mainly with complex applications. 

Flutter's custom rendering engine also offers slightly better performance than Ionic's native one, as Flutter renders every animation as a UI widget. Widgets in Flutter are designed to be lightweight and fast. Also, the rendering engine is able to cover the changes in UI on the fly. This makes it possible for Flutter to handle complex animations with high frame rates and smooth transitions. Ionic, which relies on the native rendering engine, can struggle with complex animations because of the huge amount of data that needs to be interpreted.

Flutter's usage - in general - may lead to better performance, but it is necessary to remember what we said above: the overall performance depends more on the code quality than on using a specific tech stack. Even though Flutter looks better "on paper," the ultimate choice should be taken based on the given project-specific requirements.

Flutter, as mentioned before, uses the Skia graphic engine, so here we don’t have any “connectors” between native components and Dart code. Every UI component is being rendered in Skia without using the native part, providing us with optimization and performance compared to the native technologies.

Ionic, on the other hand, uses web technologies, which are well known, but of course, it can’t be just “interpreted” to native UI. So here we have WebView to render our UI. It decreases performance a bit and cannot be fully compared to native. Also, it generates some limitations in the UI building process, so creating an app that “feels” and “looks” native is a tougher challenge. Anyway, it still looks and feels nice for smaller apps or PWA-based solutions.


From a developer's perspective, it is hard to provide a universal answer here. But we can take a look at some pros of each framework.

As mentioned a few times earlier, Ionic uses web technologies (HTML/CSS/JS). Any web developer can simply and quite quickly get into this framework and start building projects. The idea of building UI and logic here is very similar to web analogs. All the tools are also similar.

When it comes to Flutter, we have to learn a new programming language. It is still not a big deal, since it is very similar and comparative to JavaScript, but a bit more strongly typed and with a bigger bias toward object-oriented programming. Also, it provides the “tree of widgets” idea of building apps and it requires understanding at least one of the most popular state managers to create high-quality and organized business logic.

Learn more: 7 Things You Need to Learn as a Flutter Developer–Guide For Beginners

Documentation and support

The documentation is well-written for both frameworks. They contain information about setup, development process, integration, and code convention.

The cool thing about the Flutter documentation is the “Flutter for” category. It hosts excellent guides for developers who want to migrate from their current technology to Flutter.

Flutter is backed by Google, which provides extensive documentation, tutorials, and support through its official channels. Ionic's community, however, provided similar support and resources and backed it by offering commercial training for enterprise customers. Given that Ionis is based on the most common technologies, it is easy to suppose that their documentation is more robust and comprehensive, with detailed guides, API references, and tutorials. However, Google-backed Flutter, based on Dart programming language, is very well-organized, with clear explanations, examples, and code snippets. That's true that it is a relatively new framework, and some parts of its documentation may be less detailed and opinionated than those of more established frameworks like Ionic, yet - the "noise" that makes it challenging to find the correct information.


Dart-based Flutter architecture is very non-standard, designed around the reactive, widget-based approach. In Flutter, a declarative widget tree represents the application's user interface (UI). That means when the desired UI is declared - whether we are discussing displaying a new button or animation - Flutter immediately reflects it in the UI layer with its pre-built widgets. Ionic follows a hybrid architecture. It is built with JavaScript, CSS, and HTM, uses Apache Cordova to cover mobile functionalities, and uses web technologies to create its UI components. This may extend the time of code execution a bit. 

User Experience

Flutter comes close to creating a native-like app look and feel mainly because of its rendering engine and pre-built widgets optimized for fast performance across different devices and platforms. Ionic is more web-oriented, which can cause inconsistency in UX on other platforms. When it comes to developer experience - as always - it is not easy to judge. On the one hand, Flutter demands to know Dart, which makes the entry threshold higher than Ionic, based on widely known JavaScript. Then again, for developers familiar with Dart, Flutter can be easier to use than more general-purpose JavaScript-based Ionic. As always: it depends. 

When to Use Ionic or Flutter?

Considering everything described above, we can see that using web technologies in Ionic is a great decision for PWA apps, proof of concepts, and small applications. Flutter also seems weak when it comes to the web so far.

But if your goal is to create a bigger product, MVP with the potential to continue development, or if you want an app that feels more native, Flutter would be the better choice. It has stable support from Google, popularity, and a larger amount of developers and contributors. The Skia graphic engine allows you to keep performance comparative to native solutions, meaning you can create more advanced solutions.


The differences between Ionic and Flutter might resemble the ones between Android and iOS. While Ionic’s founding idea was to embrace the common web standards wherever possible to flatten the learning curve while delivering great tools for building platform-agnostic apps, Flutter chose its own path, betting on creating a self-contained ecosystem and non-standard approach. 

Is it possible to say which one is better? Not without causing a riot.

Ruslan Zaripov  avatar
Ruslan Zaripov