How Much Does It Cost to Make an App – Full Breakdown
Having a $10,000 budget and a $300,000 budget for a mobile application are vastly different. Both figures, however, can provide an accurate answer to the question “How much does it cost to make an app?”
The problem is that numerous factors can influence app development costs. Do you want to create an app that works on both iOS and Android? What country do you want to hire a development team from? What kind of app do you want to create? The cost of your project will vary greatly depending on the answers to these questions.
At Savvycom, we have created over 100 mobile apps since the company first surfaced in 2009. Being a part of the Apple Consultant Network, our article speaks from our own experience. Let’s delve into the most influential factors influencing mobile app costs and provide real-world app cost examples.
With this information, you’ll be able to estimate the cost of developing your mobile app. Anyway, feel free to contact our managers for a more precise estimate or further consultation.
1. What Factors Influence App Development Costs?
As with any complicated app development process, a variety of factors can influence the final cost. Here are the most important ones.
- App Types (native, cross-platform, hybrid)
- Platform (iOS, Android)
- Developer Rate (varies depending on location, hourly rate, and team size)
1.1. Android and/or iOS
Android and iOS are the two most popular mobile operating systems. They aren’t the only ones, but they rule the mobile world, with Android accounting for 69.74% of the market share and iOS accounting for 29.49% as of 2022, according to Statista.
When you begin working with a project manager on the first rough estimate for your app, one of the things you’ll research is the best platform to build for. What mobile devices does your target audience prefer? For example, 55.26% of mobile users in the United States use iOS, whereas in Poland, it is less than 10%. As a result, before deciding on an operating system, you must first research your target market.
You have three options if your customers use both iOS and Android devices:
- Select one platform for your initial app and add support for the other later.
- Create two apps right away.
- Create a cross-platform or hybrid app (more on those later).
If you choose one platform to begin with, the cost difference will be determined primarily by the length of development. iOS and Android development rates are roughly comparable.
Building an Android mobile app typically takes longer because your team will need to test on a wider range of devices.
1.2. Native, cross-platform, or hybrid app
When estimating the cost, the type of app makes the most difference. First, what exactly are these apps?
Native mobile apps are designed exclusively for a single mobile platform. It is impossible for a regular user to run an APK file (executable for Android) on an iPhone or an IPA file (executable for iOS) on an Android device.
Android and iOS use different programming languages and frameworks: Android uses Java and Kotlin, while iOS uses Swift and Objective-C. If your target audience owns both Android and iOS devices and you decide to support both platforms with native apps, you’ll need to create two apps: one for Android and one for iOS.
However, you can build a single app for both platforms (in addition to a web app or a responsive website):
- App for multiple platforms
- App hybrid
You might be thinking right now. Why would I create apps for each platform when I could create a single app for both?
Indeed, developing a hybrid app is faster and less expensive than developing two native apps. However, you should be aware of the disadvantages that cross-platform and hybrid apps bring. Here is a brief comparison:
|Native apps||Cross-platform apps||Hybrid apps|
Despite these disadvantages, there are some popular cross-platform and hybrid apps, such as Skype, Slack, and Instagram. The trick is determining what type of app your company requires. Perhaps the disadvantages will be irrelevant to your application. But perhaps they will.
1.3. Cost of App Design
Great visuals are the foundation of a good app, so it’s no surprise that design can influence the cost of developing an app. Custom icons and design elements, such as screens, logos, and buttons, will take time and money to create. In addition, each screen in an app must be drawn separately. Making custom animations is an entirely different challenge, but they are frequently a winning feature.
However, great design does not always imply complex visuals. Sometimes simplicity is the best solution: depending on what your app does, it may be possible to use standard OS-provided elements that don’t take much time or effort to compose.
When it comes to games, design is an especially important component of the cost of mobile application development.
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The cost of developing an app is largely determined by the number of features — but this is not the only factor.
The complexity of those features can be more influential at times. Some features rely entirely on standard tools and APIs. Others necessitate the use of third-party APIs. A third type necessitates the development of custom algorithms.
It’s something of an industry standard to divide mobile apps into three categories based on complexity:
- Simple apps have few features, most of which are either fairly standard or relatively simple to implement. Consider this type of app to be a minimum viable product (MVP), or an app with only the features necessary to collect feedback and validate the app idea. Some finished apps are similarly straightforward. Building a simple app can take between 2 and 4 months and cost between $18,000 and $60,000.
- Medium-complexity mobile apps typically take 6 to 10 months to develop. Apps of medium complexity have more screens, features, and complex features than simple apps. If a simple app has a basic login feature, for example, a medium-complexity app would have Facebook integration. That’s just a simple example, but you get the idea. The cost of developing a medium-complexity app will most likely start at $50,000 and can rise to around $130,000.
- Complex apps include features such as augmented and virtual reality, bots, payment integration, NFC (near-field communication), and media streaming. Development time can range from 7 months to more than a year, depending on the number of such complex features. The average cost of developing an app with complex features starts at $130,000 and can reach $500,000 or even more.
The backend, also known as the server-side, is the part of your app that is invisible to your users but supports some of the more complex features, such as device syncing and push notifications (though the latter can be handled by cloud integrations today). Servers host your databases, custom, and third-party APIs, and other applications.
A backend isn’t required, but if your app requires one, you’ll need to hire a separate developer, such as one who works with Ruby on Rails or Python. And, of course, that developer will raise the price of your app.
When asked, “How much does it cost to develop an app?” The answer is typically calculated based on the amount of time required for analysts, developers, designers, and testers to complete all stages of development. However, developers’ work can be calculated in two ways:
- In hours, which is the traditional unit of measurement for task complexity. Developers estimate the time required to build each feature, allow for unexpected complications, then total the time for all tasks and multiply it by the hourly rate. Easy.
- In story points, a system that is increasingly being used in Agile development. The idea behind the story points system is that instead of attempting to predict how long it will take to develop a specific feature, the feature (or story) is assigned a number of points for difficulty.
Story points are subjective. The team chooses the simplest story (one with the fewest risks and the least amount of effort) and assigns it to two story points. Then all of the other stories are compared to it and given points in comparison. Typically, stories begin with two points. Not 1, because something is always added or removed during development, and a story worth fewer points than the one previously thought to be the smallest may appear.
1.7. Team Size
It’s difficult to estimate the average cost of developing an app without knowing how many people are involved. After all, these are the people you’re paying to do the work.
The simplest app development team consists of the following specialists:
- There is one project manager.
- 1-2 platform developers (iOS, Android, web)
- 1 backend programmer (optional)
- 1 user interface/user experience designer
- 1 quality assurance specialist
A single UI/UX designer is usually sufficient for both iOS and Android apps, but an additional web app may necessitate its own designer. A backend developer is required if your app requires a server-side.
This team can be expanded for faster and more complex development, which will impact app development costs.
1.8. Outsourcing vs. Internal Team
Hiring a team of specialists to sit in your office and work solely on your project is what in-house development entails. Outsourcing means hiring a separate company to do the development for you without having the developers within arm’s reach.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but we’ll concentrate on the price differences here. To make a long story short, hosting a team of developers in-house is far more expensive than outsourcing. Having an in-house team means you’ll be paying for the followings:
- Additional office space and workstations
- Software and hardware
- Tools for developers
- Everything you pay for your regular employees’ social benefits and everything else
These costs vary greatly depending on where your office is located. Even general numbers are impossible to state. An in-house team is sometimes justified, especially if you have multiple mobile products that must be constantly updated. In other cases, outsourcing is a better option. And outsourcing can be calculated with some accuracy.
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1.9. Development Team’s Location
The geographical location of the company you’re hiring accounts for the majority of the cost of outsourcing. Here is a list of countries organized by average hourly rates, from the most to least expensive:
- North America (the United States and Canada) – $100-150 per hour
- $110 per hour in Australia
- Western Europe (the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria) — $90 per hour
- $50 per hour in South America
- Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria) — $40-50/hour
- $25 – 30 per hour in Asia (Vietnam and the Philippines).
- Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa — $30 per hour
We can estimate the average cost of developing an app in different regions using these approximations. To accomplish this, we simply need to go back in time and recall the average development time for each of the three types of apps:
- Small app for at least two months
- Average 6 months for a medium app
- 8 months to more than a year for a complex app
2. The Unknown Costs of Mobile App Development
The cost of developing an app extends beyond the development process. There may (and almost certainly will) be additional expenses to consider along the way. Here are the five most common hidden costs you may not have considered.
2.1. Upkeep and upgrades
The app’s release is undeniably significant, but it is not the endgame. As long as the app is available in app stores, you must maintain it, respond to user feedback, and provide regular updates. According to the Outsystems Survey, the cost of app maintenance during the first year after launch is approximately 50% of the cost of app development. The second year is usually 25%, and each subsequent year is 15-25%.
Maintenance and updating services typically include the following:
- Optimization of code
- Server enhancements
- Application updates and bug fixes
- New technologies and features
- Support for new operating systems
- Scalability of the app
2.2. Infrastructure expenses
These costs are primarily associated with app hosting on servers. The main goal here is to ensure that your platform can handle traffic spikes following the launch. The scalability requirements of your app will determine the cost of these services. Here is a list of infrastructure fees you may be required to pay:
- Storage of data
- Content distribution networks
- Tools for development
- Load balancing devices
2.3. Functional expenses
This section’s services are designed to help your app’s functionality. For example, you may need to subscribe to several services and set up third-party integrations. The cost of these services varies according to how many you require, and these expenses frequently include:
- Notifications via push
- Notifications via SMS
- Integration of social media
- Gateways for payments
2.4. Level of app security
While you can completely delegate the development process to the hired team, there are a few aspects we recommend familiarizing yourself with, one of which is security. You can inquire about the development team’s security practices and discuss the best options for firewall protection, secure transactions, and other critical issues. Making the platform as secure as possible may increase the cost of developing an app, but it is well worth the investment.
2.5. Patenting applications
This legal step will protect your intellectual property rights while also assisting you if other app owners falsely accuse you of intellectual property theft. This must be completed before the app is released to the public.
During the patent application process, you will need to specify what makes your app unique, define the aspects of your app that you want to claim ownership of and provide a visual representation of the app.
The cost will vary depending on the country in which you file your patent application and the type of mobile app. A regular non-provisional patent in the United States, for example, can cost between $2,000 and $5,000.
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3. App Development Cost Examples
As evidenced by the preceding, so many factors influence the development process that estimating the cost of creating an app on the spot is difficult. At Mind Studios, we write articles in which we share our insider knowledge of the development of various types of apps, including cost estimates.
Here are several examples of the costs of developing an app for both iOS and Android in 2022, as estimated by The Mind Studios with their $45/hour rate:
- FitBit-like fitness app — $84,600
- Tinder-like dating app — $108,470
- Discord-like VoIP app — $99,950
- $82,440 for an educational app similar to Udemy
- Signal-like messaging app — $100,080
- Headspace-style meditation app — $76,590
- Postmates-style food delivery app — $130,500-148,500
- IKEA Place-like augmented reality furniture app — $91,800-124,200
- $137,700-162,000 for a marketplace app like Etsy or eBay
How much does it cost to create an app you have in mind, and how can you find out? If you know exactly what you want to build, you can either contact an app development company for a rough estimate (which is what our contact page is for) or use an online app cost calculator.
Online cost calculators are straightforward web applications. They allow you to select from a variety of parameters and features, and then automatically calculate a rough estimate based on the rates set by the calculator. When using one, keep in mind that the majority of these calculators estimate the cost very, very roughly. Most are designed to obtain your email address and entice you to contact the development company.
4. Mobile App Development Cost – Interesting Facts
As you may have guessed, when we said numerous factors influence app costs, we weren’t exaggerating. And it’s not just the app development options that matter. Post-launch marketing and maintenance costs, economic conditions in the leading software service providers’ countries, and the evolution of the mobile app market all have an impact on the costs to launch a mobile app.
We’ve compiled a list of statistics about app development costs and the mobile app market in general that you may not be aware of.
- According to the Business of Apps, you should set aside at least $10,000 to plan your app’s go-to-market strategy.
- The cost-per-install (CPI), which is the price the app marketer pays to engage one user, can be used to calculate the cost of marketing. The iOS CPI in 2021 was $3.6 per app install, while the Android CPI was $1.22 per app install. Overall, app marketing can cost up to half the cost of development during the first year after launch.
- The average cost of maintaining software and, in particular, applications is approximately 15-20% of the cost of development.
- According to an Outsystems survey, more than 80% of mobile apps take 3+ months to develop, and 40% of applications take 6+ months to develop.
- According to Market Research Future, the mobile app development market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of at least 23.80% over the next eight years.
- According to Globe Newswire, the global mobile applications market is now worth US$ 112.6 billion and is expected to be worth more than US$ 307 billion by the end of 2031.
Given the last two forecasts on the list, it appears that the global mobile app market will continue to evolve at a rapid pace over the next decade, implying that app development costs will not decrease. So, if you’ve been thinking about creating your own mobile platform, now is the time.
5. Mobile App Development Costs by Types
So, how much money does it take to launch an app? To answer this question, the development team must first understand the type of application you wish to create. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but each type of mobile app has a standard set of features that will allow the team to create a rough estimate for the project quickly. In the table below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common app types. Remember that the estimates are based on a $25 hourly rate.
|Type of app||Examples||Timeline||Average cost|
|Basic app with a minimum number of features||Video player, calculator||1 month||$8,000+|
|Data-driven app||Weather||1 month||$8,000+|
|Authentication app||McDonald’s Loyalty App||3 months||$20,000+|
|Social networking app||Instagram, Facebook||3 – 9+ months||$20,000 – $100,000+|
|eCommerce app||Etsy, eBay||6 months||$60,000+|
|Marketplace app||Amazon, Booking.com||6 – 9 months||$60,000 – $100,000+|
|On-demand app||Uber, Postmates||8 – 12 months||$70,000 – $100,000+|
|eLearning app||Duolingo, Udemy||4 – 6 months||$40,000 – $60,000|
|Healthcare app||Headspace||5 – 8 months||$50,000+|
|IoT app||Nest, Garmin Connect||4 – 6 months||$40,000 – $60,000+|
|Video Streaming App||Netflix, Hulu||6 – 9 months||$60,000 – $100,000+|
These are only a few of the most common types of mobile apps. If you have an idea for something unique and even innovative, please contact our business development team. We will gladly listen to your idea and answer all of your questions.
6. How to Reduce App Development Costs
If the prices listed above make you nervous, here’s a list of seven things you can do to cut the cost of mobile app development.
- Make a thorough plan
Can you draw it? Better yet! Bring a clear idea and a way to properly explain it to developers.
Make a list of the app’s technical specifications and requirements.
This can prevent miscommunication, nervous breakdowns, and financial loss. In our previous article, we discussed the significance of requirements.
Outsourcing is significantly less expensive than hiring an in-house team, especially if you hire a team from a region with reasonable hourly rates.
- Beginning with a test
Although it may appear obvious, not everyone does this. Early testing helps you find bugs that, if not fixed quickly, can lead to more bugs in the future, necessitating the rework of entire features.
- Create an MVP/MLP
A minimum viable product, also known as a minimum lovable product, can assist you in gathering data and avoiding mistakes long before you launch.
- Maintain regular contact with developers and check on progress
This will keep you and your team on the same page and help you avoid major mid-development changes or adjustments.
- Find a reliable mobile app development company
It is sometimes better to pay a little more for a development team that is experienced in your field and has a good reputation. Examine previous projects and reviews on professional websites such as Clutch.
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7. How to Precisely Estimate App Cost?
At Savvycom, we estimate the cost of app development in six stages:
- You get in touch with us and tell us about your project.
- We are contacting you to gather general information.
- Our project managers conduct preliminary research and develop a rough estimate.
- We will contact you with our estimate.
- If everything is in order, we will begin a more in-depth discussion with you about the functionality and content of your app.
- Based on all available information, we create a more precise estimate.
After the final app development cost estimate, there may be adjustments if new features are added or additional technology is required. Slight cost adjustments are possible with any changes. However, the cost rarely deviates significantly from the final estimate.
Before app development begins, reputable software development firms will usually provide you with a rough estimate of the mobile app development cost. The quote is based on your project description, as well as your business and technical needs. This data is compiled and summarized in a preliminary list of features.
It’s also worth noting that initial estimates and actual application development costs don’t always match up. Aside from the obvious assumption that the estimate was incorrect in the first place, another common cause of the mismatch is a change in the app development scope. This can occur if:
- Midway through the project, the client decides to increase the number of features or make other significant changes.
- The MVP launch or soft launch, during which initial feedback is gathered, indicates that the team needs to make some significant changes or even look for entirely new solutions.
Fortunately, in most cases, these disparities can be avoided by investing time and money in the proper discovery stage. That is the first thing Mind Studios does after accepting a new project. During the discovery stage, we determine whether there is a market need for the app, which features the target audience will require, and how we can differentiate the new product from the competition.
8. App Cost By Stages of Development
The entire app development process can be broken down into four major stages. Let’s look at how much each of them might cost and how much of the overall process they compensate for. Remember that the calculations below are based on a $25 hourly rate and apply to medium-complexity projects like an on-demand delivery app or a fitness app.
- The discovery stage is when the team analyzes the market and the target audience, calculates the risks, and develops solutions that will help the app succeed.
Time and cost estimates: 80 hours, $2,000
- The UI/UX design stage is when a team of UI/UX designers decides on the app’s features and develops its visual concept. The outcomes of this stage are presented in the form of prototypes — visual mockups of each app screen.
Time and cost estimates: 160 hours, $4,000
- The development stage is when a team of developers turns the prototypes into a fully functional mobile application. The following estimate includes iOS, Android, and backend development.
Time and cost estimates: 2080 hours, $52,000
- Testing is the process by which QA engineers test the app and look for bugs to report to the development team so that they can be fixed.
Time and cost estimates: 200 hours, $5,000
The project management component is an additional important component of the overall development cost. It is not a stage in and of itself, but rather a tool that assists the client and team in staying on the same page throughout the collaboration. This service takes 200 hours on average and costs $5000 for a medium-complexity project.
There are numerous factors that can influence the cost of developing a mobile application, including whether it is native or cross-platform, simple or complex, and developed in North America, Asia, or Eastern Europe. Even with the statistics on app development costs in 2022, making an accurate estimate without knowing the specifics of the project is difficult. However, in this article, we’ve covered the most common types of mobile apps on the market, so you can get an idea of how much your project might cost.
If you’d like a more accurate estimate for a mobile app, our business development team will gladly conduct a free consultation for you.
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There are 9 main factors that may decide if you are going to pay a tremendous amount of money or a reasonable sum to build an app.
1. App operating system - Android and/or iOS
2. App type - native, hybrid or cross-platform
3. Cost of app design
4. Features of the app - simple, medium-complexity, or complex
5. App backend
6. Workload - can be calculated in hours or in story points
7. Team size required
8. Team model - outsourcing or internal
9. Development team's location
Savvycom follow 6 stages to estimate the total costs, this is also the common process for other firms:
Stage 1. A client gets in touch with Savvycom about their project.
Stage 2. We contact our client to gather general information about them and the project.
Stage 3. Our project managers conduct preliminary research to develop a rough estimate.
Stage 4. We discuss with the client our rough estimated cost for the project.
Stage 5. Then, we carry out an in-depth consultation and discuss the app's functionality and design.
Stage 6. With all the information, we can deliver a more precise estimated cost for the app development project.
As discussed in the article, development costs are impacted by many factors. Thus, the costs may vary widely.
If the rate is $40/hour, here is how much to pay for an app:
- Simple app: $40,000 to $60,000
- Average app: $60,000 to $150,000
- Complex app: from $300,000
In case you want to reduce the costs, it is suggested to outsource from countries like Vietnam. You will be able to own an app with the same quality but for a more affordable price.
Building an app is not cheap, but there are several ways to get around it and lessen how much you need to pay.
1. Make a detailed plan
List out clearly what your app will need, what it serves, your strategy, and your budget for the project.
Outsourcing is a clever way to save money, especially if you hire a team from a region with more reasonable rates.
3. Test frequently
It is advised you test your app as soon as possible to find bugs and fix them before they require more effort.
4. Create an MVP/MLP
A minimum viable product (MVP), also known as a minimum lovable product (MLP), can assist you in gathering data and avoiding mistakes long before you launch.
5. Contact your developers & check on the progress frequently
Doing this keeps you and the developer team on the same page and helps you avoid major mid-development changes.
6. Find a reliable mobile app development company
Cutting costs is a goal for any business, but sometimes it is worth paying a little extra to get the quality product you desire.