How Much Does It Cost to Develop Mobile App?

By Saurabh Barot   |   26 August, 2021
How Much Does It Cost to Develop Mobile App?

Quick Summary: Have the next generation, ground-breaking app idea you want to convert to an actual app solution? Are you stuck on how to create your mobile app development budget? We will cover all mobile app development cost related things in this comprehensive blog, so you have nothing to worry about!

More and more people access the internet using their smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices globally. This has naturally attracted many business tycoons and industries to build their mobile apps for reaching their existing audience with ease and exploring and connecting with new potential customers.

One of the first and most important questions you need to ask when planning on developing your mobile app is how much it costs to develop a mobile app?Based on your project requirements and many other factors, the answer will vary from business to business. We will help you to understand the various associated costs to develop an app so that you can get a better estimate of your mobile app development project. This will help you develop a mobile app development budget and get the most cost-effective mobile app development solutions.

Table of Content

  1. Factors affecting the cost to develop a mobile app – Your app characteristics
  2. Mobile App Development Cost Factor – Who is building your App?
  3. App Development Costs based on App Development Stages
  4. Hidden Costs to Develop Mobile Apps

I. Factors affecting the cost to develop a mobile app – Your app characteristics

1. Factor affecting Cost of Mobile App Development – App Size

Depending on your app features and the project’s scope, your app costs can reduce or increase significantly. The size of your mobile app is directly proportional to the cost of creating an app. There is a general formula that acts as a cost calculator for app development costs –

Mobile App Development Costs = Hourly Rates of Developers x Development Time

The larger your app size is, the more resources will be needed to match its requirements and features. This also affects the app maintenance costs. Here is a quick table for you to identify if your app belongs to the small, medium, or enterprise category.

Cost of Mobile App Development Based on App Size

App Size Feature Lists Development Hours App Development Costs
Small 4-5 Feature Pages
Basic Features
Simple Logic
2 months $10,000
Medium 7-10 Feature Pages
Moderate Features
Interactive Elements
2-4 months $30,000 – $80,000
Enterprise Multiple Feature Pages
Futuristic and Advanced Features
Integration of AR/VR (if needed)
Possibility of two or three types of apps for each stakeholder
4-8 months $75,000 – 120,000

2. App Creation Cost Factor – App Features

As discussed above, the number of features and complexity of features can vary depending on the level of features we add to our mobile app. The more complicated the feature, the higher the cost of integrating it. Hence, you can have an enterprise-grade app with a few complex features that cost more than a basic app with hundreds of everyday features. Here is a cost breakdown of some of the important features you might want to include in your mobile application.

App Development Cost Based on App Features

App Features Cost Breakdown

App Feature Description Average Development Hours Average App Feature Integration Cost
Push Notifications Push notifications enable app owners to send popup notifications to user’s devices. 20 to 200 hours $1000 to $10,000
Data Encryption Protects data confidentiality by converting data to the encoded information. 20 hours $500 to $1000
Chat/Messaging Useful for social media apps or any apps requiring giving users access and feature of communicating through text, voice call, and video call. 80 hours $2000 to $4000

3. Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown – API Integrations

API integrations act as connectors between two or more applications by utilizing their APIs for exchanging data. API processes help an app increase its functionality without developing everything from scratch but relying on third-party integrations for mutual benefits. There are many types of API integrations in a mobile app –

App Development Cost Based on API Integration

API Integrations Cost Analysis

API Integration Description Average Development Hours Average Costs
Payment Integration Enables users to purchase and sell items on your app by integrating popular banking services to your app. 50 hours $2500 to $5000
Social Logins Enables users to log in to your mobile app using popular social media services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. 8-12 hours $10-$130 per month
Geolocation Enables mobile apps to utilize the user smartphone’s GPS services to pinpoint location. 50 hours $1200 to $2400

4. Cost of developing a mobile app based on App Development Style

There are essentially two broad approaches to mobile app development – Native and Hybrid.

Native app development is when you build a highly functional, scalable, and state-of-the-art app for one specific platform. For instance, if you choose to create a native Android app, you will rely on popular Android development frameworks like Java or Kotlin. Alternatively, for native iOS app development, you need to rely on Swift or Objective-C.

Hybrid app development is when you want to use a single codebase to develop an app for both – Android and iOS. Hybrid apps are limited with their functionality and scalability compared to Native apps, but this comes with a significant reduction in app development costs. Popular frameworks for hybrid app development include Flutter, React Native, Ionic, and more.

5. Mobile App Development Cost Factor – App Categories

If we decode mobile app development costs, the first and foremost factor that should immediately come to your mind is app categories. You need to know what app category your app is being developed for and the average costs of creating an app in that niche. Different apps serve different purposes in the daily lives of any person. Some apps are frequently used, while others sit inside your phone for months without getting as many clicks as your frequently used apps. Let us break down the general app categories and the average cost associated with each category.

Average App Development Cost Based on Categories

5.1 Social Media Apps

Average Cost to Develop Mobile App- $30,000 to $50,000

Social media apps allow two or more people to interact with each other in some way or the other. Most of these apps allow users to upload different content formats on their profile, and interact with posts from other people by liking, commenting, saving, or sharing their posts. Such applications also allow users to message each other or communicate via internet-based voice calls or video calls. If you plan to build a social media app, you can expect to spend around $30,000 to $50,000 based on your project requirements and the number of features you need.

Social Media Features Outline –

  1. Profile Authorization
  2. Likes
  3. Post Commenting
  4. Post Sharing
  5. Notifications
  1. Search Users
  2. Private/Group Chats
  3. Uploading Media Files
  4. Platform Community

5.2 Travel Apps

Average Cost to DevelopApp – $25,000 to $55,000

Building a travel app has many benefits for any travel-based agency/company. As per a market study, 57% of travelers demand tailored services as per their personal preference. Furthermore, more than 36% of travelers are willing to pay more for personalized services based on their personal information and traveling history. Having a mobile travel app helps streamline these demands of users, providing them with a seamless travel booking app solution. The average app development cost for a travelling app is around $25,000 to $55,000, depending on your specific app requirements.

Travel App Features Outline –

  1. Map Integration and Navigation
  2. Trip Planning
  3. Booking & Reservation
  4. Transportation
  1. Reviews and Recommendation
  2. Weather Forecasting
  3. Emergency
  4. Services

5.3 E-Commerce Apps

Average Cost to Develop Mobile App – $30,000 to $70,000

E-commerce apps have revolutionized the traditional shopping experience a step further after the emergence of an e-commerce website. With online storefront apps, people can buy what they want anytime, anywhere, and at the comfort of their fingertips.

As per a study conducted by Statista, the average value of online shopping via mobile phones peaked to $134.39 on average in the last quarter of 2021. This shows the importance and incentive behind investing in a mobile e-commerce app.

E-commerce App Features Outline –

  • Registration
  • User Onboarding
  • Voice Research
  • Easy-to-use Checkout
  • Social Sharing
  • Wishlist
  • Push Notifications
  • Review and Ratings
  • Synchronization

5.4. Banking and Finance Apps

Average Cost to Develop App – $60,000 to $140,000

Banking and financial apps have redefined the possibilities of banking. They have managed to make one of the most tedious tasks a seamless experience and added much more convenient for users to manage their banking at the comfort of their homes. However, creating a banking app comes with a lot of responsibility, as your users will trust you with their sensitive and important data. Hence, adding security protocols and features to your mobile banking app is necessary.

Banking and Finance App Features Outline –

  • Voice Banking Services
  • Open Banking API
  • Expanded Alerts
  • Mobile ID
  • Digital Payments and Mobile Wallet Access

5.5 On-Demand Apps

Average Cost to Develop Mobile App – $20,000 to $60,000

On-demand apps connect customers with different service providers and vice versa. On-demand apps are widely popular and in demand as they provide instant services based on users’ real-time demand. Need to book a cab? You have Uber. Need to order food? Zomato it. Likewise, you can create an on-demand app for any service customers want. On-demand apps are generally costlier than most other categories as they require the inclusion of many complex features. On-demand apps generally need three separate apps for the three stakeholders – Customer App, Driver App, and Admin App.

On-demand App Feature List Outline –

Customer App Features Driver/Delivery App Features Admin App Features
Registration/Sign-up Registration Customer Support
Place Order Order Management Real-time Tracking
Schedule Delivery GPS Support Order Content Management
Search In-app chat/call Analytics
Real-Time Tracking Earning Tracker Order Management
Notifications Time Planner Driver Management
In-app chat/call Order History Customer Management
Edit Order
Order History
Payment Integration
Review and Rating
Geolocation

5.6 AR/VR Apps

Average Cost to Develop App –$50,000 to $300,000

AR/VR are no longer a futuristic app development trend; they are very much integrated into many apps from a different niche in the present day already. For example, IKEA came up with IKEA place, allowing users to visualize how IKEA furniture would look in their home spaces before committing to purchase the product. Similarly, PokémonGO was the first widely popular AR/VR-based game that allowed users to capture Pokémon in real-life settings by utilizing the smartphone’s camera. Hence, whatever niche you belong to, if adding AR/VR features to your mobile app makes the user experience better or enhances your app’s usability, consider integrating these services in your mobile app.

AR/VR App Feature List Outline –

  1. Platforms
  2. License Type
  3. Unity Support
  4. Smart Glasses Support
  1. 3D Recognition
  2. Cloud Storage
  3. Geolocation

5.7 Gaming Apps

Average Cost to Develop Mobile App –$20,000 to $250,000

Gaming apps are one of the most popular mobile app categories, and that is not going to change anytime in the future. With the prices of gaming consoles skyrocketing, mobile gaming has exposed many users to true gaming who never had access to such an experience before.

Statistic: Most popular Apple App Store categories in June 2021, by share of available apps | Statista

As per a study conducted by Statista, the gaming app category is the leading iOS app store’s most popular category race, with a 21.49 percent share of active apps as of June 2021.

Different gaming apps have different app prices based on their level of complexity, genre, and demand.

Mobile Game Cost Breakdown as per Type of Games

Type of Game Description Average App Cost
Mini-Games Casual games that don’t need any skills to play. $20,000 to $50,000
Social Games Usually played by multiple players on social media platforms.
Built with SDK provided by social media platforms.
$100,000 to $250,000
Business Game Applications Many modern businesses are taking advantage of the gaming hype in mobile app development to enhance communication, encourage creativity and improve the overall work environment. $250,000 to $550,000
2D Games 2D games have easier graphic rendering than 3D games and hence cost comparatively lower. $5,000-$20,000
3D Games 3D games add more depth and perspective to the gaming experience making it closer to real-life experience. $20,000 – $250,000

II. Mobile App Development Cost Factor – Who is building your App?

Understanding what kind of app you want to build is the first step in getting a better idea of the cost of app development you can expect to pay for your mobile app. However, just like average app development costs vary from one app category to another, app development costs for the same kind of app differ from company to company.

For example, how you can get a burger at your local store for $2.74 depending on where you are based, and a McDonalds Big Mac burger costs $3.99; the same app requirement can invite different app prices depending on the scale and size of the app development company you hire.

freelancers vs app development company

1. Hiring Mobile App Development Companies

Hiring dedicated mobile app development companies can be your best bet for getting organized, systematic and best mobile app development services. These companies provide app development services and have a team of certified experts with years of experience dealing with varying clients and client requirements. Let us look at the different factors affecting the cost to develop mobile app when collaborating with a mobile app development company.

1.1 Size of Mobile App Development Companies

Primarily mobile app development companies can be divided into three segments –

  1. Small Scale
  2. Medium Scale
  3. Enterprise Scale
Size of App Development Company Key Characteristics Average App Development Cost
Small Scale $50,000 to $100,000
Medium Scale $150,000 to $450,000
Enterprise Scale $5000,000 to $1,000,000

1.2 Location of App Development Companies

Note that the mobile app development costs mentioned as per the size of app development companies are an average global estimation. Depending on where you build your app from, these costs can further vary significantly. The reason app development services cost differently in different countries is due to the overall economy of the country and the difference in minimum and average pay scales. Hence, the cost of mobile app development is greatly affected by your app development company. Here is a systematic cost breakdown of mobile app development between the top app development countries.

Average App Cost Breakdown as per Region of Development

Country Asia Africa Latin America Eastern Europe
Average App Cost $20-$45 $25-$45 $35-$70 $30-$65

1.3 Type of App Development Company

Depending on your company’s location, there are three app development company-hiring options that you can opt from –

  • Onshore – If the app development company is from the same city or same country as you.
  • Nearshore – If the app development company is from the same region and time zone as you.
  • Offshore – If the app development company is from a different time zone, different continent than you.

The cost to develop mobile app decreases the further you go away to find an app development company. As you saw in the region comparison table above, Latin America and Eastern Europe have significantly higher app development rates per hour than Asia and Africa. Hence, if you are on a budget or don’t want to spend a fortune on your mobile app, you can always opt for Nearshore or Offshore App Development companies. Here are some basic pros and cons of all three types of app development companies to help you decide better –

Type of App Development Company Pros Cons Average Mobile App Cost
Onshore/Local Outsourcing
  • No language/culture barriers
  • Same Timezones
  • Easier communication, possibilities of having a meeting
  • More accessibility
  • Limited skill sets
  • Local training costs can be higher
  • Added infrastructure cost of managing an additional team
$130/hr
Nearshore
  • More cost-effective than Onshore app development companies
  • No language/culture barriers
  • Easier communication
  • Not as inexpensive as Offshore App Development services
  • Accessibility can still be a challenge
  • Legal regulations and policies can be different
$60-$95/hr
Offshore
  • Access to a wider range of skills
  • Cost-effective
  • Better scope for scalability
  • Quicker turnaround time due to large workforce
  • Time zone complications
  • More attention is needed on quality control
  • The difference in work culture
$25-50/hr

2. Hiring Freelancers

Alternatively, you can also hire freelance mobile app developers for your mobile app development project. Freelancers are individual professionals with specific skillsets and flexible working hours. The average cost of hiring a freelance app developer ranges from $61-$80 per hour. There are many pros and cons of hiring freelancers for your mobile app development project. Let us discuss some of them in detail –

Pros of Hiring Freelance App Developers

  • Access to specialized professionals
  • Faster onboarding and hiring process
  • Considerably cheaper than app development companies
  • Access to global talents

Cons of Hiring Freelance App Developers

  • Lack of reliability
  • Communication challenges
  • Payment security and project completion risks
  • Scaling can be costly
  • Not as available and accessible

III. App Development Costs based on App Development Stages

Mobile app development is an elaborate and layered process. Your mobile app goes through several stages, from the first ideation to finally deploying it on the PlayStore or Apple App Store. Let us break down this app development lifecycle and understand the various costs involved at each stage to get a wholesome idea of the overall mobile app development costs.

Stages based cost to develop an app

1. Pre-development Stage/App Discovery

Average App Costs – $250-$800

The pre-development stage or App Discovery stage is when you go to an app development agency/freelancer with your app idea and discuss your project requirements with them. In return, the app development company will run a detailed analysis and research on the app niche, existing competition, most popular trends, required features, and other important aspects for ensuring your mobile app is the best amongst the competitors. Then, they will identify the app users, define goals and objectives, create a roadmap, and plan the entire development process.

2. UI/UX Designing/ App Designing

Mobile app designing is a crucial part of overall mobile app development that is often overlooked or underworked. A good app design goes a long way in making the mobile app thrive and be used by more users. However, many factors are affecting the cost of designing an app.

Also Read :Cost to Design an App in 2021

3. Mobile App Backend Development

Average App Costs – $800-$1400

Backend is where all the magic happens! Backend development is an important part of any mobile app development process. Depending on your app needs and complexity, you can either opt for a basic mobile app backend development service or go for a more advanced backend infrastructure to support your complex app.

4. Mobile Frontend Development

Average App Costs – $2200-$3400

The front end of a mobile app is what the end-user sees and interacts with. Therefore, your mobile app development cost also significantly depends on which popular frontend development framework you use for your mobile app.

5. Mobile App Testing

UX Testing – $400 to $800 | Functional Testing – $950 to $1380 |Performance Testing – $400-$700| Security Testing – $500-$800 | Platform and Device Testing – $420-$600

App testing is one of the most important processes in the mobile app development process. If you don’t spend on your mobile app testing, there will be a higher chance of your apps having bugs and glitches when deployed on app stores. This will increase your churn rate. Inconsistencies in mobile apps can also lead to the app being rejected by the app stores for not matching their app development guidelines.

6. App Deployment to App Marketplaces

Google Play Store – $25 (one-time fee) | Apple App Store – $99/year

Now that you are done with your mobile app development process, you are ready to upload your app on one or multiple mobile app marketplaces, depending on the platforms you decided on in the initial stage of app development. The two most popular app marketplaces are Android’s Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Google Play Store requires a one-time fee of $25 for publishing as many Android apps you want with your Android developers‘ account. In addition, Google limits 15 APK uploads per day. On the other hand, Apple is slightly more expensive with a recurring $99/year fee for publishing apps on the Apple Store.

IV. Hidden Costs to Develop Mobile Apps

Finally, yet importantly, there are some recurring mobile app expenses that you need to know about. Most app cost guides skip this portion or forget to mention it, whereas they can make a significant impact on your overall app development budget. Here is a quick summary of the various hidden costs to consider when developing a mobile app –

Hidden Costs to Develop Mobile Apps

Hidden Cost Factors Average App Costs
Hosting $50-$340/month
Maintenance and Monitoring $8000-$12,000
App Updates $1200-$45,000

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Wrapping it up!

This is your ultimate guide on mobile app development costs. Keep these cost considerations in mind before starting your next mobile app development project. Bookmark this blog and come back to get a quick overview of the expected cost to develop a mobile app whenever you are stuck. Developing a mobile app has many important steps and factors. If you plan it correctly and spend some initial time understanding the basics, your mobile app will bring you many customers and conversions.

Saurabh Barot

Saurabh Barot is co-founder and Experienced Chief Technology Officer at Aglowid IT Solutions. His deep industry experience in Angular, React, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Mean Stack and just to name few, has helped the company reach to a new level. He believes that technology is all about exploring new possibilities. Whatever a mind can think (exception can't be ruled out), technology brings it into reality.

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