Mobile apps, in the last five years, have changed the entire course for businesses.
Today, the idea of building a mobile app comes to many, from salon owners to C-Suite executives of Fortune 500 companies.
In fact, ever since Credencys started in 2008, How Much Does It Cost to Build an App has been the most asked question we’ve received from entrepreneurs, brands, and companies all over the world.
Of course, the mobile app development cost matters a lot, especially today when there are so many options available to choose from.
But, before you pick any option, it’s important to study each option carefully to identify which option is best for you and why.
Now, when it comes to developing mobile apps, most people have the misconception that the cost of mobile app development depends only on the total development time and hourly rates.
In reality, this is not the case. Pricing of a mobile app depends on a lot of factors and thus, the mobile app development cost varies widely.
In today’s blog, we will be answering the How Much Does It Cost to Build an App question of yours with a detailed explanation of everything that adds up in the mobile app development cost.
With that being said, let’s get to the point!
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App?
Like we said earlier, there is no fixed answer to the question “how much does it cost to build an app”.
But, to give you a hint, know that just like other things in life, you get what you pay for.
For example, spending a hundred thousand dollars on kitchen equipment won’t make you the number one professional chef in the world.
The same goes for mobile apps. You can’t build an app for $100 bucks or less, and at the same time, spending a million dollars won’t automagically make your mobile app successful.
So, if you want really want to figure out how much does it cost to build an app in 2021, here’s what you need to know:
- App Development Approaches
- App Development Stages
- Factors that influence mobile app development cost
- Types of Mobile Apps
- Who can build your app A.k.a. Hiring options
- Hourly rates of mobile app developers
Let’s start with mobile app development approaches.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App? – App Development Approaches
The type of app you’re building has a huge share in the mobile app development cost. Below, we’ve shared the types of mobile apps you can build and how they affect the overall app development cost.
Native Apps (iOS & Android)
Native apps are basically built exclusively for individual mobile operating systems. Simply put, a mobile app built for iOS can not be used on a different platform such as Android.
What this means is, you’ll have to build separate mobile apps for each platform if you’re targeting the user base of Android and iOS. On the bright side though, native apps are extremely high in terms of performance and provide the highest-quality user experience.
Hybrid Apps/Cross-Platform Apps
In simple words, Hybrid & cross-platform apps are easy to develop & cost-effective, which is clearly an advantage for those having a strict budget. However, this type of apps lacks performance, access to certain APIs, and cannot provide a native-like experience.
Read Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps: Why Native Will Be Your Next Choice? to make a better decision about which approach is better for your app development.
As far as the development cost of Native and Hybrid/Cross-Platform App is concerned, the actual amount is finalized based on two things:
First is the hourly rate of the mobile app developer you’re planning to hire.
Second is the factors like the number of screens, features, the complexity of features, etc..
For now, let’s learn about the hourly rates of mobile app developers and see how it could affect the cost of your mobile application development.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App? – App Development Stages
Usually, there are seven stages of mobile app development that every app development company follows knowingly and unknowingly.
During the consultation phase, the business approaches the app development firm with their app ideas or business requirements and/or challenges. The experts understand their objectives and suggest to them the best possible mobility solution.
Most of the app development companies do not charge for the consultation.
If the consultation requires considerable time and effort, then it could be chargeable.
After the Consultation, when the project is in, the requirement gathering phase starts. It focuses on gathering the technical and business requirements and understanding the client’s challenges profoundly.
With these insights, your technology partner identifies and suggests the best possible mobile solution that meets your expectations.
Requirement gathering and analysis are conducted by Business Analysts. So, it will definitely be chargeable. You need to pay for hiring business analyst(s) defined by the app vendor.
Discovery phase is taken care of by a cross-functional team that involves business analytics, project managers, software architectures, technical leads, and designers. In the discovery phase, they’ll perform
- Finalized concept
- Market & competitor analysis (optional)
- UI/UX design
- Product backlog
- Architecture plan
When all the above aspects are well defined, the app vendor can provide you more exact cost estimation for the app development. Apart from cost, you will get better clarity on project development time.
Discovery phase enables you with the benefits of requirements validation, risk coverage, goal-based design solution, risk coverage, time and cost saving, app project task prioritization, transparent coordination of the client with the team, and more.
Now, it’s time to talk about cost.
The approx cost of the discovery phase ranges from $8000 to $20000. This cost is applicable for the project that lasts for 4-6 months where the discovery phase is considered for 3-4 weeks.
This cost may vary as per the complexity of the project.
Design is an essential part of app development as it plays a vital role in increasing customer engagement and encouraging them to take action.
It comes after the discovery phase and before starting with app coding.
Before moving ahead with app development, it is essential to complete the app design to ensure the app functions seamlessly with the varied design elements.
When it comes to app design cost, it starts at $8000 for 13-20 screens. The price of app design varies as per the number of app screens, design complexity, and use of customer visual elements.
This is the most critical phase of the app development process where cost estimation is almost impossible. The reason being, as the project goes on, the client asks to develop and integrate more advanced features.
The more complex features you want to integrate the more budget you need for app development.
Along with features, app concept and type of app also influence the app development cost.
Most common features of a mobile app consist of login/logout, in-app search by one entity type, one-to-one chat with basic facilities, push notifications, etc.
If we talk about the complex app functionalities, then you can consider the one which requires a seamless audio and video streaming, a powerful connection with the admin panel, and more. Complex features are expensive but they are worth investing in.
It is quite impossible to define average cost until you determine the features and functionality you need to integrate.
Once you decide the feature set, the app vendor analyses scopes and defines the efforts. Based on the required efforts, the approx time and cost for app coding will be determined.
App testing ensures a smooth and seamless app functionality and quality. Testing of the app frontend takes around 30% of the app cost. On the other hand, testing a frontend of an admin panel costs less than 15%.
The app deployment cost depends on your preferred server. You need to pay to buy a space on the specific server and perform all the actions that are necessary to make your app live and make it available for targeted users to use it.
If you want to deploy a data-driven app, then you need to select the advanced package of the cloud service providers as you need to process a lot of data in real-time to generate accurate output and deliver the current result to the users.
Support & Maintenance
App maintenance is essential to keep your app updated and smoothly working. Again, it depends on how much-advanced features you want to include time by time.
Also, when the iOS and Android platforms launch their software update, you need to upgrade your app to make your app work efficiently with the new version of the operating system.
Support and maintenance cost is based on varied aspects so it is difficult to provide an approx cost of support and maintenance of your app.
To know more about the mobile app development process, you can visit Mobile App Development Lifecycle: 9 Steps to Consider
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App – 7 Factors That Influence Price
As we mentioned earlier, the cost to develop a mobile app doesn’t only depend on the development time and hourly rate of the developer.
There are many moving pieces that make up the actual cost.
Let’s dive into the key factors that determine the total cost of mobile app development.
1 – App Development Team
Depending on the app requirements and complexity, your app development team will include hiring a business analyst, UX/UI designer, one or multiple developers (depending on the number of platforms you’re targeting), a quality assurance engineer, and a project manager.
2 – Technical Complexity
The cost of mobile app development is not calculated only on the basis of the number of developers hired and their hourly rate, the technical complexity also plays a huge part.
In simple terms, the more complex a feature is, the more time and number of developers it will take to develop it. Furthermore, you might even need to hire a specialist developer in case a feature requires writing a custom algorithm.
3 – Backend Development
Backend development is another factor that influences the cost of developing a mobile app.
For example, if you’re building a mobile app that targets millions of users who will be transmitting vast amounts of data on a daily basis, then you’ll need a strong backend that can handle such huge workloads.
As a result, it will definitely add up more development hours for building your mobile app. In fact, you might even need to use multiple technologies as well as paid tools to make sure everything runs smoothly.
4 – Third-Party Integrations
Thanks to the fast-paced evolution of mobile technologies, today there are plenty of third-party integrations available to choose from.
Though these third-party integrations can help to speed up the development speed, there are many third-party tools that come with complicated documentation. This, in turn, can result in additional time to learning how to integrate into your app.
Moreover, most premium third-party integrations are paid, meaning you’ll have to pay for its services on a regular basis as well.
5 – Supported Operating Systems & Devices
If you’re going with iPhone app development, then your app must be compatible with the latest as well as recent versions of iPhones such as (iPhone XS to iPhone 6S). Similarly, it should also support the latest as well as recent iOS versions including iOS 13 to iOS 10.
On the other hand, if you’re going with Android app development, then there are two main factors you need to consider in order to target the maximum number of Android user base
- Popular devices on the market
- Size of the market share of each Android smartphone manufacturer
- Android operating system versions
As far as the development cost is concerned for both iPhone & Android app development, building an Android app will take longer and cost higher, given the huge fragmentation of the Android market.
6 – User Interface Design
User interface is a critical part of a mobile app and plays an important role in the success of a mobile app.
The user interface is what defines the look and feel of a mobile app. And if you want to see your app loved by your target users, it is vital to provide a pleasurable user experience.
This means, including custom graphics, images, animations, and a lot of other things, which ultimately add up a considerable amount of mobile app development hours, affecting the overall cost to build your mobile app.
7 – Post-Launch Expenses
Mobile app development is not just about programming, it’s way beyond that.
For example, just like a business, a mobile app also comes with its own maintenance costs such as app updates, bug fixes, user support, server maintenance, and even legal support.
All of this will cost you money, not to mention expenses of app promotion and marketing, which will actually make you break your mobile app.
Furthermore, the post-launch expenses aren’t included in the app development cost estimate, so be prepared to set aside money or budget for the same.
Overall, these are the majority of factors that influence the cost of application development.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App? – 9 Types of Mobile Apps
There are different types of apps available in the market. Here, we’re going to talk about estimated costs for the most common types of apps that we all are aware of.
So, let’s get started!
1 – Basic App
Basic apps usually serve a very concise purpose. Users do not need internet connectivity to use these apps. These apps are not in demand these days as people prefer to use the apps that allow them to consume a lot of information online. These are simple apps with 6-8 screens and no backend.
Timeline: 1 – 1.5 Months
Approx. Cost: $12,000+
Examples: SMS app, clock, calculator, local audio/video players, local games, camera, etc.
2 – Authentication App
In the Authentication app, the user needs to log into the app to access the full functionality. You can add many subordinate features that increase the cost.
Users interact with the data, which is synchronized among devices, through their personal accounts. To manage the content and users, you need to develop an admin panel of the app too.
Usually, people prefer to log in to an authentication app through their social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is a one-step process for users to enter into the Authentication app.
Timeline: 5 – 7+ Months
Approx. Cost: $55,000+
Examples: Google Drive
3 – eCommerce App
Main objective of the eCommerce app is to promote and sell the products through a mobile store. It contains all the normal features like login/logout, push notification, user registration, user account, social media, etc.
The features that make an eCommerce app different from other apps are detailed product catalogs, secure payment gateway integration, reliable check-out process, separate product pages, and more.
eCommerce app development is complex. So, you need to define the app infrastructure at the first point. It requires a well-planned admin panel and back-end to manage products, catalog pages, users, orders, inventory, payments, etc.
Timeline: 5-7 to 12+ Months (based on project requirements)
Approx. Cost: $70,000 – $250,000+
Examples: eBay, Amazon, Alibaba
Do you want to build an advanced eCommerce app? Read What Should You Know about Building an eCommerce App.
4 – Marketplace App
A perfect marketplace app contains the features of both the eCommerce app and an on-demand service app. You can say, it’s an extensive version of these both types of apps.
These apps allow users to place orders and businesses to deliver the products at the customer’s doorstep. Thus, marketplace apps deal with both sides of the economy – demand and supply.
The cost of marketplace app development is higher as it requires considerable time and effort. Moreover, the customer experience matters a lot in such types of apps so there should be well-defined logic and interaction.
Timeline: 12+ Months
Approx. Cost: $250,000+ (only for web platform)
Examples: Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Uber, MakeMyTrip
5 – On-demand App
On-demand apps are the booming concept in the mobile domain. The reason for this immense popularity is it satisfies the customers’ needs and wants.
Let’s talk about the feature part.
On-demand apps can have functionality like social apps that involve login and communication components like call, chat, etc. It also contains eCommerce features such as product/service ordering, delivery, payment, and more.
Though it contains the features of two different app segments, it creates and delivers completely different experiences as it allows the customer to consume the services on the go at their preferred location.
Timeline: 10 – 12+ Months
Approx. Cost: From $80,000 to $100,000+ (per platform)
Examples: Uber, UberEATS, Zomato, Postmates
To get more details on on-demand apps, click here.
6 – Data-driven App
Data-driven apps consume and process only precise information. Just like basic apps, data-driven apps are not highly in demand. Still, a few such apps exist.
Usually, these apps either include additional features or an extension of a larger software. The development of a data-driven app costs you higher as it requires some back-end work.
Timeline: 2-3 Months
Approx. Cost: $15,000+
Examples: Weather, Map, Calendar, Stocks
7 – IoT App
Internet of Things apps allow users to connect the app with any equipment and physical object. All the devices, objects, or equipment that are connected with IoT are considered as “smart”.
The apps are connected with the intended devices either via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to send requests and receive data.
To connect the IoT apps with the intended object, you need to install hardware in it. You can use ready-made hardware or develop custom hardware as per your bespoke needs.
Make sure the hardware works properly when integrated into the object. The hardware captures the intended data from the object and sends it to the IoT apps using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Thus, when you are planning to develop an IoT app, you need to be prepared to invest in hardware as well. It obviously increases the overall costing of your app.
Timeline: 4-6 to 12+ Months
Approx. Cost: $50,000 to $300,000+
Examples: Amazon Dash Button, Beacons
8 – Social Networking App
The main objective of the social networking apps is to improve the social interactions of users with other users. The social networking apps allow users to share information and chats.
There are many social apps such as communities, media sharing, dating apps, blogs, interest-based and anonymous networks, apps for customer reviews, and more.
Social networking app development requires a well-planned backend infrastructure as it intends to process lots of data.
Cloning the popular social networking apps like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. won’t help you drive success. These apps have existed in the market for years and contain a lot of features and functionality. Considering all the features in one go won’t fit in your defined budget and time.
Do you know the beginning of these apps?
All these brands have started with either MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or a basic version with the very limited but essential features.
Let’s have a look at Instagram’s journey!
We all know that Instagram is a leading photo sharing platform that allows users to share photos with their contacts.
Initially, they developed an MVP of the app that allows users to share photos into a square form. This functionality is the key secret behind the tremendous success of Instagram. With time, they added new features and functionality as per the market requirements and user demands.
The development of an MPV or building the basic version of your future customized product is the right strategy to begin with your project. More importantly, you can go live with your app quickly with your limited budget.
Timeline: 6-8 to 10+ Months
Approx. Cost: $70,000 to $250,000+
Examples: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn
Credencys has proven experiences in building robust social networking apps. We have deployed a social networking app like Weight Watchers, a leading fitness brand from USA.
9 – Game Apps
Games can be both simple & advanced. And as you might have expected, a complex game app costs more. So, game development cost basically depends on many factors like 3D graphics, AR support, global ratings, social media integration, and so on.
For entrepreneurs, the game app category is the most profitable one since it’s the most popular category worldwide according to Statista.
Image Source: Statista
Once you decide which type of app you want to build, you need to stick with that category.
Timeline: 4-6 to 12+ Months
Approx. Cost: $50,000 to $200,000+
Examples: Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Temple Run
|App Type||Approx. Time||Estimated Cost||Examples|
|Basic App||1 to 1.5 Months||$12,000+||SMS app, clock, calculator|
|Authentication App||5 to 7+ Months||$55,000+||Google Drive|
|eCommerce App||5-7 to 12+ Months||$70,000 to $250,000+||eBay, Amazon, Alibaba|
|Marketplace App||12+ Months||$250,000+||Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Uber|
|On-demand App||10 to 12+ Months||$80,000 to $100,000+||Uber, UberEATS, Zomato|
|Data-driven App||2 to3 Months||$15,000+||Weather, Maps, Calendar|
|IoT App||4-6 to 12+ Months||$50,000 to $300,000+||Amazon Dash Button, Beacons|
|Social Networking App||6-8 to 10+ Months||$70,000 to $250,000+||Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn|
|Game Apps||4-6 to 12+ Months||$50,000 to $200,000+||Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Temple Run|
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App – Hiring Options
When it comes to developing mobile applications, you’ve three hiring options:
- In-house staff
- Mobile App Development Company
This option basically involves hiring full-time employees to help you build an app.
Though the idea of having developers physically present is definitely beneficial but if you really think about it, this is 100% unnecessary.
For example, hiring in-house staff will add lots of unnecessary costs such as infrastructure, internet, and other utility bills, not to mention paying salaries whether they’re being productive or not.
So, unless you’re a unicorn startup backed by VCs or a million-dollar enterprise corporation, there is no need to go through all the hassle just for developing a mobile app.
Though freelance is the most cost-effective hiring option of all three, it’s not the smartest option to go with.
Here is an analogy that will explain why:
Suppose you’ve decided to hire freelancers to build your mobile app. The first thing you’ll need to do is finding the right talent in the market, which will be super-hard especially because you’ll not have the knowledge to identify the right mobile app developer.
However, let’s also suppose that you’ve found the right talent. You will still have to manage them individually, which will eat away your time that could have been spent on other important things such as planning and executing app marketing and promotion campaigns.
Thus, hiring freelancers is again not a great option.
Mobile App Development Company
Hiring a mobile app development company is often the first choice of entrepreneurs, startups, and enterprise companies.
This hiring option is basically the sweet spot between in-house staff and freelancers.
Take in-house staff for example. While there are many benefits of having the development team physically present, it costs way higher than hiring an outsourcing company.
On the other hand, freelancers cost less than an outsourcing company but managing them individually leaves no time for focusing on other important aspects of your app business.
However, hiring a mobile app development company helps people like you to build a mobile app in a limited budget and focus on other aspects such as app promotion at the same time.
In this hiring option, you basically share your app requirements and the company takes care of everything from wireframe design to publishing the app on the App Stores.
To learn about the pros and cons of above listed hiring options in detail, visit Software Outsourcing Company v/s In-house Team v/s Freelancers
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App – Worldwide Hourly Rates
If you’re planning to build an app for your business but don’t know how to write code, then obviously you will need help.
You’ll have to hire a mobile app developer or a group of developers, depending on the complexity of your mobile app requirements.
And as you might have guessed it, the more developers you hire, the more the development cost will be.
Below, we’ve shared the average hourly rate of mobile app developers in different regions.
These are worldwide hourly rates of mobile app developers.
So, how much would it cost you to hire a mobile app developer?
This, as you can see, depends on the location of the mobile app developer.
In simple words, the hourly rate of mobile app developers varies in different countries.
North America, for example, is the costliest region to hire mobile app developers from. Their hourly rate ranges from $50 USD to $250 USD.
Asia, particularly India, is the main IT outsourcing hub charges between $10 USD to $75 USD per hour.
Although, one thing you should remember that there’s no guarantee that your mobile app will succeed if you go with the most expensive mobile app development company.
In fact, low-cost mobile app developers such as from India have proved to perform better and deliver better results.
The point is, higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality or guaranteed success.
Moreover, a lot of factors go into making an app successful.
Below, we will talk about the most important factors that not only play a huge role in the success of a mobile app but also how they influence the costing of a mobile app.
10 Hidden Cost Drivers of an App Development
The app development is divided into two parts product development & launch and on-going development.
App Development & Launch
This is the first stage of app development where the entire app development process takes place that involves the design, coding, app architecture building, quality assurance, etc.
While creating an architecture for your app, you need to organize subsequent project versions that consist of server capabilities, different supporting libraries, hosting, database, and more.
Implementation of the new features and functionality, app updates, bug fixes, etc, fall under ongoing development.
App architecture and ongoing development have some essential features that the client is not aware of. These elements increase an app development cost noticeably.
Let’s unveil the hidden cost drivers of app development.
- Development libraries and tools used
- Assembling backend infrastructure to maintain the app scalability
- App infrastructure services like domain, hosting, server, etc.
- Regular app updates and bug fixes
- Third-party service and API integration such as analytics, maps, payments, etc.
- Databases used for data storage such as videos and pho content, user data, etc.
- App administration complex Content Management System (CMS) and web portals for app management
- Video and audio streaming functionality
- Data encryption to transfer data
- Assembling app architecture: microservices vs. monolithic architecture
Ongoing development is part of Support and Maintenance. So, when the app development company provides you the cost estimation of the app, it excludes support and maintenance costs.
Most of the time, the cost to support and maintain the app is quite higher than the budget invested in developing the original app. The reason is development and integration of advanced and value-added features.
Thus, if you are planning to build a robust app, then you cannot ignore the importance and cost of the support and maintenance part.
Calculating the Final Cost of Mobile App Development
Let’s talk numbers!
Based on the things that we discussed in this blog, here is the rough answer to your question How Much Does It Cost to Build an App in 2021.
We already saw that hiring a mobile app development company is the best option.
So here, we will calculate the final cost to build an app based on $50 USD per hour as the average hourly rate of app development companies.
To keep things simple, we will divide the mobile app cost into three different categories.
Simple Apps are apps with basic functionalities that don’t require any complex third-party integrations. Features of simple apps involve standard UI design, feed, social media integrations (if required), simple database, and basic backend.
Developing this kind of basic mobile apps require somewhere between 250 to 1000 design & development hours that could cost from $12K to $50K USD.
This kind of apps includes high-end custom UI design, real-time and payment functionality, various API integrations, moderate backend server, and a broad range of device support.
On average, developing apps with moderate complexity may take somewhere between 750 to 1800 hours that could cost from $35K to $90K USD.
These kinds of apps, as you might have guessed, take long hours to design and develop. These apps require advanced features like seamless audio/video processing, customized animations, heavy third-party integrations, complex backends, real-time features, and multiple database relationships.
Thus, the timeframe to develop such highly-complex apps takes anywhere between 1500 to 2500+ hours based on specific requirements, which could cost from $75K to $125K USD or more.
How Does Credencys Calculate the Cost of App Development?
Each time a client approaches us with his or her mobile app idea, we provide a free rough/ballpark cost estimation.
Here’s how the cycle goes:
- Firstly, when you fill out our Contact Us form, we schedule a call with our principal consultant who confirms the details you filled in the form, ask about your app requirements, business goals, budget, etc. and notes down everything.
- Next, we process the requirements shared by you during the first call and perform business analysis to offer the best solution possible within your budget.
- After that, we will schedule another call with you to present our feedback, solution suggestions, the initial scope of work document for you to review.
- Next, once you review and provide your feedback on our suggestions and scope of work document, we make the necessary changes to finalize the scope of work and based on that we prepare the final cost estimation for your mobile app project.
- Finally, we negotiate the final cost & offer you the best solution for your mobile app project.
Once you approve the final estimate, we proceed to create wireframes for your mobile app to show you how your mobile app will look and feel like.
Upon your approval, we will begin the rest of the application development process, send you daily reports, work on your feedback, and so on.
With this, we’ve come to the end of this blog.
We have tried 100% to give a detailed answer to the question ‘How Much Does It Cost to Build an App’ as possible.
To give you a summary, the cost to build an app depends on a lot of different factors, who builds your app, how much time it takes, and how it gets built.
So, now that you know how the cost of developing a mobile app is calculated, contact us now if you’re ready to build your first mobile app and make an empire out of it!
Here’s one of our recent blogs that will help you with that:
FAQs on How Much Does It Cost to Build an App
Q:1 – How much does it cost to build an app?
To give you a rough estimate, mobile apps usually cost anything between $10K USD to $125K USD and even more, depending on the type and complexity of the mobile app you’re building.
Q:2 – How much does it cost to build a game app?
To develop a game app, you need an expert mobile apps development company, and as far as the cost is concerned, the game app development cost can range between $50K USD to $500,000 USD, depending on the 3D graphics, size, graphics, and other functionalities.
Q:3 – How much does it cost to maintain an app?
The mobile app maintenance costs are usually 10-20% of the total development cost. So, if the cost of your mobile app is $15K, then you should expect the maintenance cost to be around $1500 – $3000 USD every year.
Q:4 – How long does it take to build an app?
The time to build an app varies greatly, but the general answer is 4-12 months. Although, you can also go with the MVP approach to build your mobile app faster and with core features to test your idea in the market.