How Much Does It Cost To Build A Mobile App

Mobile App Development Cost

It’s no wonder that app development is one of the most indispensable steps in building revolutionary products today. Both small and large businesses have understood the power and importance of building mobile apps to engage their customers and drive sales.

According to a report published by Statista , there were almost 204 billion app downloads in 2019, and we expect these numbers to multiply in the coming years.

However, building an app is no easy feat. Almost business owners face significant challenges in figuring out the cost of building a mobile application. Mobile development costs vary depending on certain factors, and business owners might get confused if they aren’t aware of them.

This article will give you an overall idea of how much it cost to make an app on iOS and Android platforms by highlighting the top 8 factors that affect mobile development fares.

How Much Does it Cost To Make an App Worldwide?

According to a survey conducted by Clutch the high median cost of mobile app development in the US is $171,450. The app costs range fluctuates from the US $30K to $700k, depending upon the development complexity and other factors.

This report published by Statista summarizes how much does it cost to make an app on hourly rates around the world. In the US, the median mobile app cost goes to around US $150/hour for iOS and Android development. In the UK, the median mobile app cost is around US $70/hour. On the other hand, in India, the hourly rates are as low as the US $30/hour, making it a software development outsourcing hub for businesses worldwide.

Relevant article: How to boost your business sales using chatbot

Based on this data, we now know the cost to develop a mobile app. Let us now explore the 8 factors pivotal in deciding the cost to develop an app. They help shape your mobile development life-cycle and allow you to identify spaces where you can cut costs.

Here’s a table that shows the cost distribution for developing an Android or iOS app in different parts of the world.

RegionAndroid (USD/Hour)iOS (USD/Hour)
North America168150
South America3443
Eastern Europe3535

The 8 Biggest Factors That Affect Your App Development Cost

1. App Development Team

One of the most important factors that affect app development price is how you build your development team. You can approach team building in these 3 ways:

a) Hire an in-house development team

As part of your company, hiring resources and putting them on payroll gives you complete control over the mobile development life-cycle. You have a sense of security and can ensure minimum roadblocks. However, you need to make this decision based on whether you will need them post-development. An in-house team should not later become a money-draining liability for your business.

Here’s an article that mentions the average salaries of mobile developers in different countries.

b) Hiring Freelancers

Based on project requirements, hiring freelancers is the cheapest alternative to building your app development team. According to this report, the median cost of a complete project through a freelancer is around US $543, which is just a fraction of the cost of other approaches. However, make sure you verify portfolios and only hire high-quality freelancers.

Hiring someone inexperienced may sound appealing as it saves your budget, but results in delays in app development and greater technical faults if they don’t have the real-time knowledge. And, a defective product can hurt your business.

Don’t Hire Us Until You Learn How We Can Help You Develop The Right Application & Grow Your Business.

c) Hiring an Agency

Hiring a mobile application development company is an expensive option for building your app development team. However, it is also the best approach. A professional agency can bring experienced developers and designers to your team and provide deeper insights into building a fantastic product. An agency will also offer complete support and maintenance post-development.

Check out this article that overviews the costs to build an app development team.

Here’s a table that will give you an idea of the required skill set, team size, and members depending upon your project’s complexity.

Project ScaleFunctionalitiesTeam Members
Small Scale ProjectMinimally complex, usually for building a POC or prototype; core functionalitiesiOS/Android Developer x 1
UI/UX Designer x 1
1Backend Developers
QA Engineer × 1
Medium Scale ProjectComplex project design, for scaling purposes; multiple functionalitiesiOS/Android Developer x 1
UI/UX Designer × 1
Backend Developers × 1
QA Engineer × 1
Project Manager × 1
Large Scale ProjectComplex project design, integrated support, advanced specifications, multiple APIs and user journeysiOS/Android Developer x 2
UI/UX Designer × 2
Backend Developers × 1
QA Engineer × 1
Project Manager × 1
Business Analyst × 1

2. Technical Complexity

There are no limits to what your app can do, however, loading it with features increases the complexity of development. In other words, the cost to make a mobile app directly depends on the complexity of its features.

A simple app with basic UI/UX design elements and features like Sign Up, Login, Feedback, and email subscription can be completed within 2 to 3 months whereas, feature-rich complex apps with payment gateways, encryption, cross-platform compatibility, and multiple API’s can take as long as 3 to 6 months to complete.

Thus, before you begin your app development, it is best to do an in-depth business analysis and list down all your required app functionalities in proper project documentation, and then compare it with your available budget to keep your expenses in check.

3. Backend Development

Your mobile app backend is responsible for data storage, security, and business logic that the end-user cannot see. The backend logic is programmed separately and stored on cloud environments or on-premise servers. API’s are then used to make this code run. Back-end Development can use a choice of programming languages like Node.js, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Java, C#, Python, etc, depending upon what suits best for the kind of app you hope to develop.

The complexity of the back-end development determines the type of server support your app may need. For example, an app that enables a user to send and receive videos will require a costlier server. The cost of cloud servers can range from US $70/month to US $320/month.

Based on your budget and app requirements, you can purchase the server support from the following:

a) Shared hosting

Best for small apps with simple features. Price is as low as the US $3/month

b) VPS (Virtual Private Servers)

Price can range from US $10 to US $15/month.

c) Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are physical servers. Price starts at US $100/month.

d) Cloud Hosting (Best for feature-rich apps)

Price can range from US $10 to US $50/month. Cloud hosting is flexible and the most popular hosting alternative today.


4. Niche Third-Party Integrations

Many app development companies worldwide offer feature-specific services that you can do API integration to integrate into your mobile applications. Some examples include Twilio for push notifications, Maps by Google for navigation services, and Msg91 for SMS integrations. Developers can use just their APIs without accessing their source code and quickly access these services without coding from scratch.

Integrating these third-party services requires purchasing their APIs, which can add to the cost of developing an app.

5. In-App Purchases

In-App Purchases (IAP) allows you to charge your users for a specific functionality or content while using your app. In-App Purchases is a very desirable alternative for most businesses as it is a source to generate extra revenue without actually charging your users for your application download.

So we say integrating IAP’s can affect the overall cost of app development for sure . Besides this, Google and Apple charge a 30% fee on in-app purchases on your iOS or Android app, which also should be considered in the app development process.

6. Supported Browsers, Devices, and Operating Systems

Another factor that can affect your mobile app development charge is compatibility. Compatibility could be device-oriented and operating system-oriented compatibility.

Developing a dynamic app that is compatible with multiple devices like mobiles, tablets and desktops can cost a lot more than just mobile compatible apps.

The type of app you build also is a key factor that determines the total app cost. App development can progress in two ways:

Native mobile development:

Native mobile development means building a mobile app in a language that is native to the operating system. For example, using Java to build for Android or using Swift to build for iOS. Native app development helps you hit the perfect balance with offering the best user experience and excellent performance.

The downside is that native apps require complex coding. It also requires more time to develop an app for multiple platforms like Android and iOS.

The average native mobile development price can range from US $10,000 to US $500,000

Hybrid mobile development:

Modern technologies like React, Flutter, and Xamarin offer hybrid cross-platform mobile development becoming the most popular alternative to build mobile apps. In Hybrid development, developers can reuse the same code base across multiple operating systems.

This reduces the cost to build an app and maintenance significantly. However, developers need to stay updated with potential challenges since the performance may not be as stable as a native-based app.

The average Hybrid mobile development charges can range from US $5000 to US $100,000

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7. Custom Designs and Animations

The app design has a pretty important role in the overall development cost. And rightly so, since it is the first thing customers notice about your app.

App design involves wireframing to understand the flow of the app initially. This is followed by the actual user interface design. Designer costs vary depending on your location. In the US or Australia, designers usually charge around the US $120 to the US $150/hour. In eastern countries like India, the hourly charges range from US $50 to the US $80/hour.

Some apps in the gaming industry or social media require advanced animation design. Animation rates can sharply increase your fare to create an app.

A good design is crucial for the success of your app. While it is fine to cut corners, make sure you do not compromise your user experience.

8. Post-Release Expenses

Once your app is released to Google Play Store and Apple App Store, it requires regular support and maintenance. This includes regular updates, testing, and bug fixes. A general thumb rule is that your app’s annual maintenance costs should be around 20% of the total app cost.

Besides this, the cost to publish an app is also a part of the expense. Google charges a one-time registration fee of US $25 to publish an app on Google Play Store. At the same time, Apple has a yearly subscription fee of US $99 on iTunes.

How Do We Estimate Mobile App Development cost?

Now that we have explored the 8 significant factors that drive your app development cost, let us see how you can build an estimate to determine mobile app development cost.

Begin by drafting a rough estimate based on the hours it might take to build your app, the tech-stack you would use, and the total resources your team would need. You can then create a detailed cost breakdown document that contains the scope of work.

A quick formula to determine cost estimation:

Total development hours × Hourly rate = Cost

Development Cost of Famous Startups

Finally, it is essential to read about famous startups to gain insights on how to manage your app development costs. This can be instrumental in your journey as a product manager.

Here are a few cost estimations of famous startups:

Famous startupsDevelopment Cost
FacebookUS $500,000
InstagramUS $100,000 to $300,000
WhatsAppUS $120,000
PinterestUS $120,000

Check out this link to learn more about the development cost estimation of other famous development companies.

water delivery app development

One step at a time

Mobile application development may seem like a herculean task, with all the various steps involved in the process. Attempting to juggle all the responsibilities at once might result in absolute confusion. Thus, it is always best to take one action at a time and begin from the start, i.e., by planning your budget. And paying close attention to the eight factors listed above might be a great way to do that!

Contact us, and we will take care of your app development life cycle, right from meticulous planning to perfect execution.

Rajamanickam Rajan

Rajamanickam Rajan is the director at Skein Technologies, a leading IT solution company in India. He has 10+ years of experience in developing application using IBM Worklight hybrid, native applications for IOS and Android systems.

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