Top 4 PHP Frameworks To Use in 2021

PHP is a programming language that provides users with a basic structure to build applications. In 2018, PHP powered around 80% of all websites. Using a broad spectrum of PHP web framework ecosystems, developers can create a safe, user-friendly, and sophisticated mobile app in the short term. 

Let us imagine that you need a mobile application for your business and you want to build it with the PHP framework. Here, the question arises “How to decide which PHP framework is best for you?” Since there are too many options, to find the best framework becomes challenging.

But don’t panic. We are here to help! In this article, we have gathered:

  • Tips on how to choose the framework that is best suited for your project ·         
  • The top four PHP solutions and their main features
  • The top four PHP frameworks comparison table 

to make it easy for you to choose the best PHP framework for your business. 

Read on!

Tips on how to choose a PHP framework

To select your future framework in PHP, you need to consider the following parameters:

The goal

The aim of your project is the main decision-making factor for the future framework. 

If you need to develop a simple web app, there is no need to use an enterprise-level framework that requires many resources.    


If your PHP framework is popular, you will receive support from its publishers and service companies while getting more external packages and libraries. Also, consider that some frameworks are more preferred in some particular countries.  While Yii is more liked among Russian-speaking developers, Laravel has a big community that mostly consists of English-speaking users.   


Security is essential for the best web development in PHP. Since websites are potentially vulnerable, you need to select the framework that ensures advanced security functions like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), SQL Injection.


Proper documentation will make it easier for programmers to understand the source code and develop applications. Since different framework varies greatly depending on the complexity. While Yii is simple to learn by developers, Symfony is more complex. For this, consider the volume, nature, and quality of the framework documentation.

When you know about the most important factors for future PHP solutions, let's move further. Below you will find the list of top PHP frameworks and their advantages.

The 4 best PHP frameworks

As we have said, there are numerous PHP solutions, currently presented on the market.

The image below shows the popular PHP frameworks and the percentage of their users.

Among other PHP frameworks, Laravel, Code Igniter, and Symfony are definitely the leaders.

Still, we chose quality over quantity. According to our experience, the best PHP frameworks are:

  •     Symfony
  •     Laravel
  •     Zend
  •     Yii 2

These frameworks allow creating, not only a high-end web app but also enterprise-level software. Find out more about their main advantages below.

1. Symfony

Since its launch in 2005, Symfony framework provides web developers with built-in functionality for testing, as well as reusable code and components

Image source: Symfony

Since its launch in 2005, the Symfony framework provides web developers with built-in functionality for testing, as well as reusable code and components. They are Cache, ClassLoader, Form, Mailer, Messenger, suitable for any project requirements, even the development of enterprise-level software. This framework also has other benefits, including:

Fast loading speed. The app's performance is essential. Since it determines whether users will use it or not. Symfony 4.2 loads its REST API during 2 ms. In this way, Symfony is the fastest PHP framework. 

Flexibility. Symfony adapts to any project requirements. The framework includes Event Dispatcher, making Symfony completely configurable. Besides, each Symfony component is operated independently.

Thorough documentation. This framework has comprehensive and detailed documentation useful for both experienced developers and newbies. All framework components are well explained and simplified with examples. 

Advanced stability. SensioLabs company, the Symfony developers, have supported this framework for 13 years. So, you can contact them concerning any issues. 

We used this PHP framework to transform the existing CPA product into a white-label mobile marketing platform.

The client required us to build a mobile app that handles planned traffic growth.

Besides, we ensured the smooth Android app operation using Symfony 4.

  • Our team expanded a data processing toolset to make it more scalable.
  • We have added new parameters and features
  • Besides, we ensured the smooth Android app operation using Symfony 4.

As a result, the client received a fully-featured mobile marketing platform with over 50 parameters, 20 metrics, and an intuitive interface. Find out more about this project by reading the case study

2. Laravel

From the beginning, the main goal of Laravel is to create feature-rich web applications

Image source: Webxmedia

From the beginning, the main goal of Laravel is to create feature-rich web applications. Laravel has a well-built templating engine that performs a large variety of regular tasks. This framework has such features as RESTful routing, caching, user management, and authentication. This way, Laravel speed up the development process. Why do we use Laravel?

Advanced security. As we have said, high-level security is one of the essential PHP framework features. Laravel has advanced security that eliminates any malware activity. With Laravel, you receive a risk-free framework, secure from unintended and hidden SQL injections.

Mail services integration. With a built-in mailing service, your web application can send notifications to users via local or cloud-based services across various delivery channels, such as SMS and Slack. Laravel has a simple API and provides drivers for Mailgun, SMTP, Mandrill, and Amazon SES.

Numerous features. The framework allows developers to integrate numerous ready-made features using packages, modules, plug-ins, and even components to your web app and speed up the development process. The full list of the most popular Laravel packages is available on the link.  

Better authentication. Why use Laravel Framework? Because it helps developers implementing certain functionality in a better way. Therefore, developers can easily create even the logic behind the authentication, which always was an extremely challenging task. 

We used Laravel for Conectric LLC, a start-up from the real estate sector. The main goal was to provide commercial building owners with end-to-end solutions that reduce the power consumption of HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and lighting. 

We used Laravel for Conectric LLC, a start-up from the real estate sector.

For this project, we

  • Developed the whole software ecosystem
  • Integrated the back-end with two mobile applications.
  • Incorporated the software with hardware, high-loaded back-end, sensors, and control boxes.
  • Created a high-performing and secure mobile app using Laravel.

Created a high-performing and secure mobile app using Larave

You can find the full case study by following this link.

3. Yii2

Yii2 is famous for advanced security and fast loading time

Image source: Yiiframework

Yii2 is famous for advanced security and fast loading time. This framework applies a non-repetitive code principle. Such a principle allows for avoiding the repeated use of similar software patterns. Using Ajax and JQuery features, Yii2 simplifies the development of large-scale applications. Other Yii advantages are:

Advanced security. Yii 2 includes numerous security measures to prevent your website or a web app from attacks.  So you should not worry about cookie tampering, SQL injection, cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and cross-site scripting (CSS) anymore. 

Faster development time. Since Yii generates the basic CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) operations, the team of developers created the application faster, which reduces the project costs.

Easy installation. During the development process, every minute is valuable. Yii helps developers to improve their use of time by providing the installation template. Thus, developers need less time to install and configure the framework.

4. Zend Framework 

Built with agile methodology in mind, Zend Framework is aimed for enterprise-level application.

Image source: Medium

Built with agile methodology in mind, Zend Framework is aimed at enterprise-level application. By using interfaces and inheritance features, Zend allows adding any project-specific functions to your app. Zend has 5 years of support

allowing you to develop stable business applications with a longer usable lifespan.

This framework is also known for its great performance and security. Besides, this framework has other advantages:

Collection of authentication components. As we have said, authentication makes PHP development quite a challenging task. Zend toolset for feeds and form validations eases the development process because there is no need to create this functionality from scratch.

Zend Studio IDE. Zend Studio is an integrated development environment that allows developers to code faster with improved indexing, validation, and searching of PHP code. Now, developers can debug more comfortably with Xdebug, Zend Debugger, Z-Ray integrations, and deploy PHP applications on any server including cloud support for Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Enhanced documentation. With The Zend Framework Reference Guide that includes over 1,000 pages and over 500 examples, your development team might find the necessary solution for your app. Moreover, Zendcasts includes numerous tutorial videos that highlight the framework functionality. 

Zend Expressive. Zend Expressive PSR-7 is one of the core framework components, which improves the implementation of microservices in the applications. This component allows your team to develop complex web applications with a set of easy PHP interfaces that enable the working with URIs, HTTP requests & responses, and uploaded file representations. 

The top 4 PHP framework comparison

Now, let us look at the most popular PHP frameworks comparison, their usage, and main advantages.

  Symfony vs. Laravel vs. Yii 2 vs. Zend


Current version



Main advantages




Mobile web applications

Large Scale Portals

  • Free of repetitive code writing
  • Fastest framework for large-scale applications
  • Provides faster performance
  • Protects sensitive data against threats
  • Handles a large number of requests per seconds





Medium Scale Portals

  • Streamlined authentication integration
  • Faster web applications development
  • Supports popular cache back-ends
  • Easily handle errors
  • Reliable Routing


Yii 2



Medium Scale Portals

  • Free of repetitive code writing
  • Fastest framework for large-scale applications
  • Faster performance
  • Protects sensitive data against threats
  • Handles a large number of requests per seconds




web applications

Large Scale Portals, Enterprise-level web applications 

  • Well-documented
  • Flexible Architecture
  • High productivity
  • The extensible and well-tested codebase 




If you did not select your PHP framework yet, don't despair. As a bonus section, we share other popular PHP frameworks and their description. 

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Other 6 popular PHP frameworks for web development

Our popular PHP frameworks list includes the following solutions:

  • CakePHP
  • CodeIgniter
  • FuelPHP
  • Phalcon
  • Slim
  • PHPixie

Now, let us look at each of them in more detail.


Powered with Ruby on Rails, this framework allows the receiving of a better website so the development process becomes flexible, faster, and, as a result, cost-effective. CakePHP uses auto-detection for all settings and does not require a previous system configuration. Developers spend the most time on writing codes and checking their structures synchronization. With CakePHP pre-written code, developers spend less time on such tasks. They pick the desired code and add it to the app.


CodeIgniter is the best option for those who are looking for a simple yet reliable solution. This PHP framework has detailed documentation. Still, if any issue arises, you can receive support from the developer community that counts 57,000 users.  


This flexible PHP framework uses URI filtering for advanced security. FuelPHP is great for developing web applications of diverse sizes and complexities.


Unlike other frameworks, Phalcon built on C and C++ coding. In its feature list, Phalcon has a universal autoloader, caching, security, asset management, translation, and much more. This framework uses low levels of architecture, which reduces overheating, typical of MVC-based apps. 


Developers use Slim in case they need to create RESTful APIs for their projects. Apart from minimalistic design, this framework includes URL routing, session, and cookie routing.  If you want to build a small web application, this is your framework of choice. 


Developed for read-only websites, PHPixie uses 100% unit tested components that require minimum dependencies. In its feature list, PHPixie has authorization capabilities, input validation, caching, and object-relational mapping.


PHP frameworks allow developing highly secure, feature-rich applications in the short term.  Still, with such a great diversity of PHP frameworks in 2019, it is difficult to choose the best one for your project.

When choosing the PHP framework, base your choice on the project’s needs, security options, extensive documentation, and the developer’s community. 

To create a feature-rich mobile app, with advanced security and numerous integrations, we recommend Symfony and Lavarel. We used these frameworks to facilitate the development process in our previous projects. 

However, for a simple web application, you can use Yii or CakePHP.

If you have an idea for a future project, need help in choosing the PHP framework, or want to hire PHP developers, experienced in creating applications, we are here to help.

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Oleksandr Bushkovskyi

Senior Software Engineer. Inlove with cloud platforms, "Infrastructure as a code" adept, Apache Beam enthusiast.