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Mobile app development costs: How much does it cost to create an app?

How much does app development cost? Every business needs impressions, and since most online traffic is now driven by mobile apps, it makes sense to consider app development. 

And so naturally, a business owner must first look into how much app development costs. There are many factors that affect the overall cost of app development. From the type of app you want to the country in which your development team is located, a multitude of factors can affect the level of investment required in an app project. 

Based on estimates from online app cost calculators, the average app development costs have been listed below:

  • Low complexity app: $15,000
  • Medium complexity app: $28,000
  • High complexity app: $50,000
  • Very high complexity app: $120,000

While complexity can be subjective, this should give you an idea of how much app development can cost. However, you don’t need to take these numbers at face value as there are other alternative ways to develop apps as well. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about app development costs. 

In this blog

  1. What factors affect app development costs?
  1. What are the app development options you have?
  1. What is the scope of a typical app development project?
  2. Some examples of app development cost estimates
  1. Frequently asked questions

What factors affect app development costs?

App development costs vary depending on a multitude of factors. In the following sections, you can learn how your development project may be priced. 

#1: Number of features

The most obvious factor that affects your app development project cost is the number of features you want. 

Some features are complicated and some are easy to integrate. Regardless, it takes time to bring every feature together for a single mobile app that’s customized for your audience. Every feature you request will increase the quote you receive from an agency or a freelance developer. 

Before you get down to hiring a company or even thinking of building an app, make a list of the features you’d like to add to it. 

While it’s not ideal to limit feature requests to maintain app costs, it may be necessary if you have a limited budget. 

#2: The complexity of the main feature(s)

Every app has a primary feature that basically highlights the core service it offers. For example, the primary feature of an ecommerce app would be product ordering. Similarly, an LMS app would need a course-based system or feature within its environment. Depending on how complex your main feature is, the cost of your app development project may go up or down. 

What makes a feature complex? Complexity can be subjective, but a complex feature is typically one that requires deep integration with third-party APIs. 

What are integrations? From a layman’s point of view, integrations refer to using third-party software within your app. For example, many delivery apps are integrated with Google Maps to provide the best possible geo-location features. 

Another sign of complexity is how unique your app idea is. If you want a feature that can’t be imported from another app project easily, it essentially means that the development team would need to invest more time and effort. Your development costs will naturally be more if your main feature is completely original. 

#3: App design requirements

Generally, development agencies offer design services as an add-on, not the core part of the app project. This is because companies like to retain control over design and branding. 

For a small business, it may not be possible to have a dedicated design team. Adding app design services to your project requirements will increase the quote you receive from the development team. 

For mobile app design, you need to take a call based on your specific business needs. It might be a good idea to hire a freelance designer on a contractual basis to work with the development team or agency. Agencies tend to charge a premium on design, and you may not be able to manage or control the design output fully. 

#3: Android, iOS or both

Most development projects are priced based on the fact that you, the client, want to publish the app on both Google Play and Apple App Store

If you decide to publish on only one of these, you can shave a few thousands from your app development budget. 

However, are the savings enough to sacrifice one platform completely? Not quite. In most cases, you only save 20-30% of your total cost by choosing either Android or iOS. Engaging your agency or dev team to build both Android and iOS apps is smarter. 

Other types of platforms include PWAs and web apps. PWAs are essentially optimized versions of websites. They can be installed on smartphones like apps, but they’re not available via the app stores. Web apps is simply another word for a mobile responsive website. If you’d like to build mobile apps for these platforms too, you would need to pay more. 

While PWAs have some advantages, they’re no match for native Android and iOS apps. They’re better in terms of user experience and general speed & screen loading times. For web apps, you can simply ensure your website is mobile responsive and not let it affect your development budget. 

#4: Location of the development team

Non-technical factors can also affect the cost of developing a mobile app. The location of your development team is one of them. The hourly rate charged by app developers in the United States and India is different. 

According to Arc.dev, mid-level developers in North America tend to charge between $61-80/hr. The same in Asia overall is between $41-60/hr. The following table shows the hourly cost of app development in different countries and regions:

Hourly cost of app development

Many businesses based in North America and Europe outsource their IT needs, including app development, to South Asian countries for this very reason. Thus, your app development costs are closely related to where your development team is located. 

So, is it a good idea to blindly hire developers from a country or region where the average hourly rate charged by app developers is the lowest? If you’re able to get the same level of service, this does make sense. You can also factor in other considerations like language barriers, time zone alignment, etc. 

#5: App development method

A few years back, the method of app development may not have been a major factor in determining the cost of a particular project.

Why? On a broader level, there has been only one method of development – build or hire a team and get an application built from scratch. Many agencies call this custom app development, which basically means that a team of developers will create an app based on your specific requirements. 

The proliferation of low-code and no-code development tools has marked a sea change. Businesses can now realistically create premium and native mobile apps without coding. For instance, AppMySite’s no-code app builder enables you to create both Android and iOS apps. 

No-code tools are priced significantly lower compared to typical development tools. If you choose to develop your app with a no-code tool, you can bring down your development costs. 

What are the app development options you have?

Now that you know all the factors that affect the cost of a typical app development project, you can take a look at all your options. 

There are four clear options you have as far as app development is concerned. One option that’s not covered is to train yourself to learn how to create an app from scratch. 

This can be a viable option if you have some form of background in programming. With some foundational knowledge, you may be able to create an app, but it may still not be enough. 

Now, let’s see the viable options you have. 

#1: Hire an agency 

The first and obvious option is to hire an app development agency. Most businesses outsource development needs as it can be tedious to build an in-house development team. This is true even when you have the resources to hire developers. 

Hiring an agency is thus a simple, straightforward option. 

So how do you go about hiring an agency? Every business has a different way of finding an agency to build its app. For some, it starts with a simple Google search followed by a series of inquiries, emails, and meetings. 

Others simply go by word of mouth or find agencies on listing platforms like Clutch. During your communication with an agency, you will get an exact quote for your project. This way, you can know exactly how much developing your app would cost. 

#2: Hire a team of developers

Instead of hiring an agency, you can always just build your own team of developers. Many companies have a dedicated tech team these days to manage essential digital assets associated with their business, which in most cases is a website. 

Hiring developers to expand or build upon your digital team instead of outsourcing work to your agency has some advantages. For one, you can oversee the entire development process and provide critical inputs at every stage. 

With your own app team, you can also ensure that post-development maintenance and updates can also be managed effortlessly. Agencies often charge extra for post-launch support and assistance, but if you have an app team, you can make all the changes and updates you want on the fly. 

This obviously means that your business would have to take a more collaborative role in the process. The need to hire well also becomes important as the talent you hire will be solely responsible for developing the best possible app. Taking this route to app development may also be more expensive in the long run. If you have the resources to have a dedicated team, it’s an option you can consider. 

#3: Establish a hybrid model

In some cases, companies hire an agency even if they have an existing tech team within their ranks. This is common practice amongst companies that want to scale the quality and success of their business online. 

Why should you have both your development team and an outside agency working on the same thing? One obvious advantage is getting an outside perspective on your in-house development process. The external agency can take on a consultative role and help your team take better decisions.

Another advantage is that it reduces the burden on the development team for the entire app project. An app project with a great scope requires a strong technical team in the background. A hybrid model between your in-house team and an external agency can be fruitful. 

Naturally, this is a more expensive way to develop an app. In fact, all three methods covered to this point are expensive and even unfeasible for small businesses. 

#4: Sign up for a no-code app development platform

The last and most feasible option to develop an app is signing up for a SaaS platform that offers automated low-code or no-code development services. As a business owner, you can simply sign up for a platform that enables you to build an app from scratch. These tools are generally no-code or low-code, and thus don’t require you to have an extensive background in programming. 

AppMySite is one such platform that allows you to create mobile apps in minutes. Within the platform, you can design your app, configure its settings, test it via emulators, and generate app files (AAB/APK for Android and IPA for iOS) that can be published on the app stores. 

Cost-wise, using no-code tools is more sustainable than hiring an agency or development team. The general perception of these tools is that they only allow users to build cookie-cutter apps. While this may have been true earlier, no-code tools have come a long way. You can find various no-code app development tools that are highly customizable and powerful.

With AppMySite for example, you can fully customize how your app looks and build practically any kind of app. 

What is the scope of a typical app development project?

The scope of every app development project varies depending on your specific requirements. However, we can broadly classify the different parts of most app development projects. This knowledge can help you before approaching a dev agency as you will know the extent of services you can expect. 

The following points explain the overall scope of a typical app development project:

  • Wireframing: Before going into the actual process of building an app, developers create a wireframe diagram of the entire application. This is done to help you understand how your final app will work. This is common practice and you should expect your development team to provide a comprehensive wireframe diagram explaining how your app will work. 
  • Development: Once you settle on the features and functions of the app, the development team will proceed with building the app. If you’re working with an external agency, you should make sure that all the features you want are part of the agreement. This is to simply ensure that you and the agency are on the same page. 
  • Design: As mentioned earlier, app design services are generally seen as an add-on. Your iOS or Android app development cost will go up if mobile app design is part of your project scope. Most agencies have a UI/UX team and once you explain your brand’s general aesthetic and theme to them, they will collaborate with the app team and design your app. 
  • Testing and publishing: Before the app handover, the development team will review the entire app and test it for various use cases. Thorough mobile app testing will ensure your app doesn’t have any unwanted bugs. The developers will also publish your app to the app stores. 
  • Post-development support: App maintenance is crucial, especially when a new app goes to market. Agencies tend to offer 60-90 days of support after the app handover to ease the transition. You should make sure these terms are set in your contract. 

The points here cover the scope of a typical mobile app development process. You can expect an agency or your own development team to offer the aforementioned services. 

Some examples of app development cost estimates 

So how much does it cost to make an app? It is difficult to give a straight answer without knowing your exact needs and requirements. Furthermore, when you outsource app development, it’s difficult to predict the baseline quotes you’ll get from mobile app development companies. 

One way to get an estimate of your mobile app cost is to see how much typical mobile apps cost. The following sections cover the Android and iOS development costs of different types of mobile apps:

#1: Cost of developing an app like Uber

Cab booking apps have grown in popularity. If apps like Uber or Lyft are not available in your area or don’t operate properly, starting a cab booking app can be a great business idea. 

First, let’s list the top features that an app like Uber has:

  • Geolocation (integration with Google Maps)
  • In-app messaging and push notifications
  • Payment gateway integration
  • Trip route optimization
  • User login and profile system. 
  • Review and rating system.

According to an app development cost calculator, an app like Uber with these features can take over 1500 hours. Based on the average cost of app development that developers generally charge, a project like this can be priced around $40-50K. 

#2: Cost of developing an app like Airbnb

Airbnb is a popular online platform that primarily allows users to book lodging. Unlike hotel booking apps, you can directly book rooms with homeowners renting out space for a period of time. 

You can create a similar app and start your own business. Before we learn how much such an app would cost, let’s list the expected list of features:

  • Geolocation
  • Live customer chat support
  • Ratings and review feature
  • Property listing system classified by location (with inventory features)
  • Payment gateway integration

The cost of such an app can be anywhere between $80-100K with over 3600 hours of development required. As previously mentioned, the cost may vary depending on where your development team or agency is located. 

#3: Cost of developing an app like Tinder

Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps in the world. Given how advanced Tinder seems, you may want to get a complete mobile app development cost breakdown for such an application. 

Here’s a list of features that an app like Tinder would have:

  • Third-party integration (with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and more)
  • Geolocation
  • Profile editing system
  • Push notifications
  • In-app messaging
  • Profile match feature
  • Payment gateway integration

Based on the features covered, an app like Tinder can take close to 1000 hours in development. The average cost of development can be somewhere between $45-70K. 

#4: Cost of developing an app like Amazon

An app like Amazon simply refers to a marketplace where multiple sellers can list their products. Such an app would involve you creating a platform for both selling and customers. While it may seem complicated, let’s understand the core features needed to create such an app.

  • Seller profile system
  • Product listing system
  • Rating and review system. 
  • Payment gateway integration
  • Cart system
  • User profile and account system

It can take around 1400 hours to develop such an app, and the cost of creating an app like Amazon would be close to $30-50K. 

#5: Cost of developing an app like TikTok

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform in the world. It has naturally inspired many businesses to create similar apps that offer short-form video content. 

On the face of it, it does take a lot of time and effort to build an app as intuitive and powerful as TikTok. It’s not simply a question of allowing users to share content via the app. Creating an algorithm that can recommend content based on user preferences and behavior can be even more complicated. 

So what are the features that are essential for an app like TikTok? The following points cover the same:

  • User profile and account system.
  • Video recording and streaming system.
  • Video engagement features like ‘like’, ‘comment’, etc. 
  • Push notification system. 
  • Backend for content moderation, traffic analysis, and more. 
  • Image and video upload functionality. 

It can take around 1200 hours to create such an app, and given the complicated nature of the app, the cost may be somewhere around $110,000.

In conclusion

Ready to build a mobile app for your business, or are you still waiting for a cost estimate? A decision on any project, not just app development, depends on how much it would cost your business. 

In this article, you can get an idea about the cost of developing a mobile app from scratch. 

While it’s never possible to give an exact estimate, you can get a ballpark figure. All you need to do is compare your app requirements with the average cost and time it would take to deliver the same. Some of the app cost examples mentioned will help you get a brief idea as well. 

Frequently asked questions

Have questions about how much it costs to develop an Android & iOS app? The following FAQs provide answers to some common questions businesses and professionals have about app development costs.

Q1: Is mobile app development expensive?

Mobile app development is expensive when compared to the development of other digital assets like a website. This is because app development takes place over a longer span of time than typical web development.

Most quotes you receive from app development companies depend on how long their developers would take to build the app. The quotes may vary depending on how much an agency may value its time, but the principle is the same.

​Q2: How to estimate your app’s development cost?

The first step is getting an estimate of the number of hours that would be needed to create an app. You can get this information from various online app development cost calculators.

Next, multiply the number of hours by the average hourly cost of development in the region where your development team is located. This should help you get an estimate of your app development costs.

​Q3: Is it worth developing a mobile app given the costs?

Given how app usage has grown and the visibility that businesses can achieve with a mobile app, it is worth developing one. If you’re worried about the cost of development, you can always look at no-code app development tools as an alternative.

These tools are easy-to-use and far more sustainable cost-wise when compared to custom app development.

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