How Much Does it Cost to Make an App like WhatsApp?

Looking to develop a WhatsApp-like app for your business? The first question you would have is – how much does it cost to make an app like WhatsApp?

Here is a quick answer on app development costs based on their complexity.

WhatsApp App TypesFinal Cost of Development
Simple App (Basic Features)$25,000 – $35,000
Medium App (Slightly advanced features)$35,000 – $45,000
Complex App (Highly advanced features)Starts from $50,000

The cost of developing a basic WhatsApp clone starts from $25000.

The cost of this instant messaging app depends on several factors like location, team size, the company you hire, and the platform you develop the app.

As the market of WhatsApp is increasing, being an appreneur, you must leverage the opportunity to build an app like WhatsApp. In fact, as per Statista, in April 2022, WhatsApp had approximately 2.44 billion unique active users worldwide which is 6.4% more when compared to the corresponding month in 2021.

Here’s a screenshot of the users from January 2020 to June 2022.

Number of WhatsApp Users Worldwide

Being a leading mobile application development company in the USA, we know what can be the cost to build clone apps.

If you are looking for detailed information on the cost and development timeline, read this article to get answers to your questions.

By the end of this blog, you will know

  • Quick cost to build a simple, medium, and complex WhatsApp clone with features and timeline
  • How much does it cost to build a messaging app?
  • Factors that impact the cost of app development
  • Tips to reduce the cost of app development

How Much Does an App Development Cost? [Quick Answer]

The cost of developing mobile applications ranges from $25,000 to $2,00,000 and also depends on the application’s complexity. Here we have bifurcated the cost with a timeline and features to provide you with the exact idea.

WhatsApp TypesMust-have FeaturesTimelineFinal Cost
Simple App (Basic Features)
  • Basic chat functionality (text, image, video, and audio messages)
  • Group chat
  • Push notifications
  • Contact list
  • Profile creation and editing
2-3 months$25,000 – $35,000
Medium App (Slightly advanced features)
  • All the features of the simple version, plus:
  • Voice and video calls
  • End-to-end encryption
  • File sharing (e.g. documents, PDFs)
  • Location sharing
  • In-app media player
4-7 months$35,000 – $45,000
Complex App (Highly advance features)
  • All the features of the medium version, plus:
  • Multi-language support
  • Integrations with other apps and services (e.g. calendar, to-do lists)
  • Advanced security features (e.g. two-factor authentication)
  • Customizable themes and backgrounds
  • Business-focused features (e.g. automated messaging, customer relationship management)
8-12 monthsStarts from $50,000

Note that these are just general outlines, and the specific features included in a WhatsApp-like app can vary greatly depending on the needs of the users and the goals of the app. Additionally, the complexity of the app, the platform it is being built for, and the capabilities of the development team are the other factors.

Here is a simple formula (refer to it as an app development cost calculator) to calculate the cost of WhatsApp app development.

Total Mobile App Development Cost Estimate = Development Time x Cost Per Hour

Since you know the tentative cost with features; let’s understand the factors that impact the cost of this instant messaging app development.

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Which Factors Impact the WhatsApp App Development Cost?

Understanding these factors is crucial in determining the budget for the messaging app development.

Let’s take an in-depth look at all these factors and how they impact the overall app budget.

  1. WhatsApp App Development Platform – iOS/Android/Cross-platform

    The platform you choose to build your instant messaging app on (e.g. iOS, Android, or both) greatly impacts the cost of development. The cost of development may vary depending on the specific platform you choose, as each one has its own unique development process and technical requirements. Messaging app development costs depend on the total hours spent building the WhatsApp clone app and the hourly rates considered.

    However, you may also want to know how long does it take to make an app? We have even provided hours in the below table.

    For the below table, we have considered a minimum rate of $15 per hour and a maximum of $25 per hour.

    PlatformApp Development TimeApp Development Cost
    iOS900-1300 hours$13,500 to $32,500 per platform
    Android (Basic features)800-1200 hours$12,000 to $30,000 per platform
    Cross-platform1000-1350 hours$15,000 to $33,750 both the platform
    • iOS vs Android: Building an instant messaging app for both iOS and Android will generally be more expensive than building for just one platform. This is because the development process and technical requirements can be different for each platform, requiring separate development efforts. Additionally, app stores may have different requirements and fees for publishing apps, further adding to the cost.
    • Native vs Hybrid App Development: Another consideration when choosing a platform is whether to develop a native app or a hybrid app. Native apps are developed specifically for a particular platform using the platform’s native programming language, while hybrid apps are built using web technologies and can run on multiple platforms. Native app development can be more expensive, but it can also result in a higher-quality and more seamless user experience.
    • Latest Platform Updates: Keeping up with the latest updates and changes to the platforms can also impact the cost of development. For example, if a new version of iOS or Android is released with new features or requirements, the messenger app may need to be updated to continue functioning properly and meeting the platform’s requirements.

    By considering these and other factors, you can make informed decisions about which platform to build your WhatsApp-like app for and how to approach the development process. The platform you choose can have a significant impact on the cost and success of your app, so it’s important to take the time to carefully evaluate your options and make the best choice for your specific needs and goals.

  2. UI/UX Design Needed for Your WhatsApp Messaging App Development

    The design of the user interface, or the way that users interact with the app, impact the overall cost of development. A custom, high-quality UI design will be more expensive than a basic design, but it can also help to make the messenger app more appealing and user-friendly.

    Again, the prototype development costs vary from the actual visual design cost. First, the wireframe is developed, the prototype is, and then the final design is developed. Let’s look at how design impacts the overall cost of an app like WhatsApp development.

    ComponentsDescriptionApprox timelineDevelopment cost
    WireframingRough sketch of the user interface and flow of the Whatsapp clone app including the layout of the various elements such as buttons, text fields, and navigation menus.30-80 hours$450-$1200
    PrototypeWorking model of an application that is used to demonstrate its functionality, usability, and user experience.30-100 hours$450-$1500
    Visual DesignProcess of creating visual elements, such as color, typography, iconography, imagery, and composition, to enhance the overall look and feel of your app.120-140 (hours per platform)$1800-2100
  3. Features to Integrate Into WhatsApp Messaging App

    Here is a table that outlines some of the key features that you might consider integrating into a WhatsApp-like app:

    Feature NameDescriptionTimeline (hours)
    Text MessagingAllows users to send and receive text messages in real time.100 – 150 hours
    Voice and Video CallsMake voice and video calls within the app.180 – 240 hours
    Group ChatEnables users to participate in group chats which can be a popular feature for friends, families, and teams.120 – 180 hours
    Media SharingShare images, videos, and other types of media to enhance the overall user experience.80 – 150 hours
    End-to-end EncryptionHelp to ensure the privacy and security of user data and conversations.40 – 70 hours
    Push NotificationsKeep users informed and engaged with the messenger app.50 – 80 hours
    Contact ManagementManaging contacts and adding new contacts can simplify the process of connecting with others within the app.40 – 80 hours
    User ProfilesCreating and managing users’ profiles to add a personal touch and help to build a sense of community.50 – 60 hours
    Chat BackupBackup and restore chats to protect their data and avoid losing of important conversations.120 – 190 hours
    Status UpdatesUsers post and view status updates, to increase engagement.50 – 60 hours
    Location SharingShares location with others for coordinating plans and keeping friends and family informed.60 – 90 hours
    Payment IntegrationIntegrates payment capabilities to send and receive money directly within the app.160 – 240 hours
    Multi-language SupportSupports multiple languages to make the app more accessible to a global audience.40 – 70 hours
    Theme CustomizationCustomizing the look and feel of the app, such as with custom themes or wallpapers, can enhance the overall user experience.60 – 80 hours

    These are just some of the many features that you might consider integrating into a WhatsApp-like app. The features of WhatsApp like audio and video calls or media sharing are also shared by social media app Snapchat. However, the cost to build a social media app like Snapchat differs from cost to build an app like WhatsApp as both these apps cater to different audiences. By carefully evaluating your goals and target audience, you can determine which features are most important to include and prioritize them in your development plan.

  4. Based on the App Development Team You Hire (App Development Company or Freelancers)

    The development team you choose to build your instant messaging apps has a significant impact on the cost of development. The size and composition of your team, as well as the experience and expertise of individual team members, can all impact the cost of development.

    The minimum app development team requirements to create a chat app like WhatsApp:

    • 1-2 project managers
    • 1-2 business analysts
    • 2-3 frontend developers
    • 2-3 backend developers
    • 1-2 designers
    • 1-2 quality assurance analysts

    Let’s understand both:

    App Development Company:

    Why should you choose an app development company?

    Here are the reasons to choose a messaging app development company for your business:

    • Have teams of experienced developers, designers, and project managers who have extensive knowledge of app development processes and technologies. The team provides high-quality results and helps you navigate the development process more effectively.
    • Established processes for managing projects, which helps ensure the project is completed on time and within budget. They also have tools and systems in place for efficient collaboration and communication, which enables them to keep the project on track.
    • Have access to a wide range of resources, including technology, hardware, and software, which speed up the development process and reduce costs.
    • Have dedicated quality assurance teams who are responsible for testing the app and ensuring it meets the highest standards for functionality, usability, and performance.
    • Provides you with long-term support and maintenance for your app, which can help ensure its continued success and growth.

    Space-O Technologies even follows the process of app development where you are always in the loop for continuous feedback.

    When you hire a mobile app development company, choosing the right hiring model also affects the messaging app development cost. Being a reputed mobile development company, we offer three hiring models for hiring app developers that include, hourly developers, full-time, and part-time.

    Let’s understand each model in detail.

    When you choose –

    • Part-time developers – Developers work on your project on a daily basis for part-time hours. So, you will need to pay for part-time hours for the time the developer team works.
    • Hourly-rate developers – Developers who work on your project based on hours previously decided. The cost of this model varies depending on the developer’s work for your project.
    • Full-time developers – Developers dedicatedly work on your project and this will cost you more compared to the above two models. Because developers will work on your project only.


    Why should you choose freelancers?

    Here are the reasons to choose freelancers:

    • Freelancers typically charge lower rates than app development companies, making them a cost-effective option for businesses with a limited budget. This limits the ability to develop complex features or integrations or to deliver a high-quality app that meets your standards.
    • Freelancers typically work one-on-one with clients, which can result in a more personalized and tailored experience.

    Freelancers may not have the same level of expertise or experience as an app development company. This limits the ability to develop complex features or integrations or to deliver a high-quality app that meets your standards. Even if you find experienced app developers, especially freelancers, you may not have established quality control processes in place which may lower the quality of user experience. This increases the risk of bugs or other issues that impact the performance of the app.

  5. Cost Based on the Location You Hire

    The location where you hire your app development team can have a significant impact on the cost of your project. Exchange rates can also play a role in determining the cost of messaging app development, especially if you’re hiring a team in a different country.

    Apart from this, it’s important to consider the cost of labor, cost of living, and quality of work in each location you’re hiring a team of freelancers or app development companies from different locations. The hourly developer rates are higher in countries like the USA and lower in countries like India. Based on the survey by GoodFirms, here’s a table indicating app developer’s hourly rates in different countries:

    RegioniOS Avg $/hrAndroid Avg $/hrCross-platform Avg $/hr
    Canada90-120 hours80-140 hours90-120 hours
    The USA60-120 hours60-120 hours60-130 hours
    Latin America28-90 hours28-90 hours40-160 hours
    The UK60-75 hours60-75 hours55-75 hours
    Europe35-55 hours35-55 hours30-50 hours
    Ukraine40-78 hours38-60 hours40-78 hours
    South Africa45-80 hours40-80 hours40-80 hours
    India22-90 hours15-25 hours20-30 hours
    Southeast Asia23-55 hours30-45 hours30-45 hours
    Asia23-55 hours20-30 hours25-35 hours
    Australia25-35 hours100-120 hours90-120 hours

    The hourly rate of app developers vary depending on the years of experience, location, and technical expertise.

    Since you have an idea about the factors impacting the complete cost of developing this messaging app, let’s check the tips to reduce the development of a chat app like WhatsApp.

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    How to Reduce WhatsApp Development Cost (5 Tips)

    Here are a few tips that you can use to reduce the cost of messaging app development when outsourcing to an app development company:

    • Prioritize Essential Features: When creating your Google cloud messaging app, focus on the features that are essential to your target audience and eliminate any features that are not essential to your app’s success. This reduces the scope of the project and minimizes development costs.

      When creating an app like WhatsApp, it’s important to prioritize the features that are most essential to your target audience. For example, real-time communication is a critical feature for a ride-sharing app, which could help drivers and passengers coordinate pick-up and drop-off locations.

      By focusing on critical features, you can keep the average cost to build a ride-sharing app at a minimum, while still delivering a high-quality user experience. Similarly, in the case of building an app like WhatsApp, prioritizing essential features such as messaging and file-sharing can help keep costs under control while still meeting the needs of your users.
    • Choose a Relevant Platform: Choose the platform that is most relevant to your target audience, whether it’s iOS, Android, or both. This minimizes the cost of development, as developing multiple platforms can be expensive.
    • Consider Using Templates: Consider using templates or pre-built components when building your app. It may reduce the cost of development, as your app development team will not have to build everything from scratch.
    • Hire a Small Team: Hire a small, efficient chat app development team rather than a large, expensive one. Small teams are often more agile and able to produce high-quality results at a lower cost.
    • Collaborate closely with the Development Team: Collaborate closely with your app development team and provide clear, detailed specifications for your project. This ensures that your app is built to your exact specifications, reducing the additional costs due to changes and revisions.

    By following these tips, you can reduce the cost of app development while still delivering a high-quality product that meets your business needs. While cost is a key factor, quality should not be sacrificed to reduce costs. Choose an app development company that delivers high-quality results at a reasonable cost, and be sure to budget appropriately for the development of your app.

    Here you have an idea of the complete cost of developing a social media app. If you still have questions, let’s quickly check a few frequently asked questions about the development of an app like WhatsApp.

    Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost to Develop an App Like WhatsApp

    Is it possible to build an app like WhatsApp for a low budget?

    Yes, it is possible to build an app like WhatsApp for a low budget, but you may need to reduce the scope of the project and compromise on certain features. Consider using cross-platform development tools, MVP, and open-source technologies, as well as outsourcing non-core functions to reduce costs.

    What are the ongoing costs associated with app development?

    The ongoing costs associated with app development include maintenance and updates, as well as server costs and any fees associated with publishing the app on the app stores. Consider these costs when budgeting for the development of your app.

    Is it possible to make changes to the app once it has been developed?

    Yes, you can make changes to the app once it has been developed. However, making changes can impact the cost of the project and the timeline, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your requirements and budget before starting the development process. For making any changes once the project is developed, you need to consult the project manager to proceed further.

    How to determine the right budget for the development of an app like WhatsApp

    Determining the right budget for your app development project requires considering a number of factors, including the

    • Complexity of the project
    • The size of the development team
    • Additional costs associated with publishing and maintaining the app.

    It’s important to work with a trusted app development partner who can help you determine a realistic budget based on your requirements and goals.

    What is the process to develop an app like WhatsApp?

    The process for developing an app like WhatsApp involves the following steps:

    Step 1: Conceptualization and planning
    Step 2: Wireframing and prototyping
    Step 3: Design
    Step 4: Development
    Step 5: Launch and Maintenance

    How Space-O Technologies Helps to Determine the Cost of Developing WhatsApp Clone

    Developing a chat app like WhatsApp is a complex process that requires careful planning, design, and execution. The cost of developing such an app will vary depending on a number of factors, including platform, design, functionality, development team, and location. To get a more accurate estimate of the cost of developing a chat app like WhatsApp, it is recommended that you consult with a professional app development company like Space-O Technologies.

    We have extensive experience in developing high-quality, scalable, and secure mobile apps for 1200+ clients around the world. By carefully analyzing your specific requirements and goals, we provide you with a detailed and accurate estimate of the cost of developing an app like WhatsApp. Whether you are a startup or an established business, we help you turn your vision into a reality by providing you with the tools and resources you need to build a successful mobile app.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.

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