The essential differences between firewalld and the iptables (and ip6tables) services are:
The iptables service stores configuration in /etc/sysconfig/iptables and /etc/sysconfig/ip6tables, while firewalld stores it in various XML files in /usr/lib/firewalld/ and /etc/firewalld/. Note that the /etc/sysconfig/iptables file does not exist as firewalld is installed by default on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
With the iptables service, every single change means flushing all the old rules and reading all the new rules from /etc/sysconfig/iptables, while with firewalld there is no recreating of all the rules. Only the differences are applied. Consequently, firewalld can change the settings during runtime without existing connections being lost.
To use iptables and ip6tables instead of firewalld