The Complete Guide to Find The Cost of App Development in 2021

cost of app development

Since the emergence of smartphones, mobile apps are booming! There’s an app for everything under the sun. And the race is still on. Every day, thousands of apps are being published on various app stores.

Statista

Source: Statista

That’s because apps are easy to build and can yield a very high ROI to your business. But after all, what is the cost of app development?

If you are seeking an answer to that question, you are in the right place. With this comprehensive guide, we aim to help you understand how much can an app cost you. If that sounds exciting, let’s get going.

Introduction

It’s true. The mobile app development industry is growing in leaps and bounds. It is certainly one of the best places to invest capital — the return on investment could be significant.

If you are thinking of turning your amazing idea into a high-earning mobile application, we will help you evaluate the total app development cost.

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To get started, let’s first understand what factors determine the cost, or we can say app development cost.

Factors That Impact Mobile App Development Cost

When evaluating the cost of an app, there are certain factors that play an important role in calculating an app development cost. Let’s look at them one at a time.

factors-imapcting-app-development-cost

Size & Type of App

The app size and its intricacy are certainly two of the most important factors influencing the total cost of an app. Primarily, you can bifurcate these costs into three categories: small, medium, and large.

Small Apps – Built for a single platform, small apps have limited functions and a simple UI. Such apps generally don’t require any back-end system or API integration. A simple weather app is a good example of a small application.

Medium Apps – Such apps may have considerably more features and functions than simple ones. It could be in the form of a payment gateway or custom UI elements.

Medium apps are majorly built for a single platform. An example of such an application is an expense tracking app.

Enterprise Apps – Mobile apps having complex features, bespoke UI, and API integrations are considered enterprise apps.

The cost of building these enterprise mobility solutions can be significantly higher if compared to small or medium-sized apps. Examples of such apps are Zoom, Slack, and Asana.

We have developed One8, a cloud-based enterprise fleet management software, for one of our clients based in Ireland.

Platforms and Devices

The platforms you build the app for will also add to your total expenses. For instance, you can create native apps that work on a single platform, a web app, or a hybrid app that is a combination of native and web apps. Which one to choose really depends on where your audience is based.

Design of the Mobile App

Your app’s user interface also influences its entire cost structure. For instance, it may cost you more to integrate complex and interactive UI elements as compared to a simple and minimal UI with fewer components.

Mobile App Designing Process

Features and Functionalities

The features you wish to integrate into your app are directly proportional to its cumulative cost. This includes things like back-end infrastructure, third-party service integration, push notifications, and chatbot. Thus, before you evaluate your app development costs, make sure you prioritize the features you need in it.

Now that we know what factors influence the costs of app development, let’s dive deeper to check how much does it cost to develop an app.

How Much Does It Cost To Create An App?

As such, there’s no one who can answer this question. But to say the least, an app can cost you anywhere from $10k to $150k or beyond. Here, we have bifurcated the cost of creating an app based on its categories.

native vs hybrid apps

  1. Native apps:

    Native applications are those mobile apps that are written in languages that the platform they are being developed for.

    Let’s take an example, Swift and Objective-C are used to develop native iOS applications whereas Java and Kotlin are used to write native Android apps.

    Both Google and Apple provide their own development tools to Android and iOS developers, such as Android Studio and Xcode respectively. The cost of developing native apps depends upon the size and type of the app like the small, medium, and enterprise app that we discussed above.

    Benefits of Native App Development

  2. Hybrid apps:

    Talking about hybrid apps, they are a combination of native apps and hybrid apps. In this app type, some components of the apps are developed as native while some components developed as a hybrid.

    Many people think that hybrid apps are more affordable and convenient to develop, but when it comes to customization, hybrid apps are not convenient.

    Apart from that, the availability of the latest features on hybrid or cross-platform is quite slower than native platforms.

Use this simple formula to get the idea or estimate the app development cost.

app development cost

Moving ahead, let’s check out the mobile app development cost by app categories. The cost also varies from category to category. Here are all the major categories:

  1. Basic functionality apps: Such apps require a minimum time to market as there are limited features. They are mostly developed for personal use and may not be necessarily published on any app marketplaces. Usually, they are informational – built to display information quickly and easily. Basic functionality app costs around $5,000. However, the price tag varies from developer to developer and the software development company you are hiring.
  2. Database-driven apps: More intricate apps that have massive data — stored directly in the device memory or on a web server can be categorized as database-driven apps. They may require additional features like a camera, internet connection, or access to the gallery to operate optimally. A few examples would include mobile dictionaries or encyclopedias. The cost of these types of apps starts at $15,000.
  3. Firmware Applications: Firmware applications are built to enhance the mobile device’s functionality – be it a camera, flashlight, or alarm clock. For instance, an app called Dorch allows you to take control of your mobile flashlights, and on the other side, an app like Alarmy can help you make the most of the function by enhancing it.
  4. Games: Games can come under several categories: simple, complex, AR-based, or operating on 3D graphics. In this case, the cost of development is directly proportional to the game’s intricacy. Thus, it’s hard to project the cumulative cost. But to give you a brief idea, a game like Angry Birds can cost you $140,000 to develop.

When it comes to the game, the initial development cost is high – however, the return on investment is also significant. Angry Birds made $70 million in the first 12 months of its launch. The rest is history.

Check this graph of Angry Birds’ revenue from 2010 to 2019.

angry bird game revenue from 2010 to 2019

Source: Statista

Now that we know about different types of applications let’s quickly look over a few of the most common pricing models that various app development partners and service providers offer.

  1. Fixed-Rate Model – Here’s the model where both the price range and the work remain fixed. In this case, the scope of the work needs to be well-defined before starting the project. The fixed pricing model starts with your requirements. You explain to your tech partner what is required of them. Based on that, they will share a custom quote for the project. Keep in mind, any change in the requirements after the project starts may influence the cumulative cost as well. This model works best for small projects aimed at creating apps that have a limited number of features — all of them clearly defined. Thus, if you’re seeking to build MVPs on budget and strict deadlines, this could be an ideal model for you. Let’s look at a few pros and cons of this pricing model.
    ProsCons
    • The price remains consistent throughout the project unless any changes to the requirements.
    • You get a clear idea about all the expenses associated with the project. No hidden surprises.
    • Minimum risks. Both the parties exactly know the project parameters.
    • Defining the exact requirements can be a daunting job and may take 2-3 weeks – depending on the intricacy of the project.
    • Less control over the project. Once the project has begun, adding anything to the requirements can increase the total project cost.
    • Lack of ongoing feedback. Because the project parameters are pre-defined, there’s little to no scope for providing ongoing feedback.
  2. Time & Material – This model allows clients to pay for the completed tasks at regular intervals. It requires consistent feedback from the client as the project moves on. Unlike the fixed-rate model, clients can add or remove any features at any given point in time.
    ProsCons
    • The client has full control over the project and they can make changes to their requirements – even in the middle of the project.
    • This model allows the client to pay only for the services they have utilized — giving them flexible payment options.
    • The project execution is seamless as it requires minimal paperwork.
    • The deadlines aren’t fixed as the amount of work is uncertain.
    • The budget also may significantly vary. That’s because – by the time the project is completed, there could be numerous revisions to the original requirements.
  3. Milestone – In this model, the client and the developers set benchmarks or milestones before the beginning of the app development process. The client and the team agree to make the payment after achieving the predefined milestone. Unlike the previous pricing models, the bill is paid only after the client is justified with the milestone achieved.
    ProsCons
    • The client can pay once the project hits a milestone.
    • More control – the client gets to decide whether the milestone is achieved or needs revisions.
    • The client can easily keep a track of the project through milestones.
    • Because the time taken for developing a functionality is uncertain – the client will have to pay the prices according to the time it took to reach the milestone. This means, no fixed budget.
    • There could be variances in the perspectives about each functionality. This may lead to conflicts between the client and the developers.
    • The time required to complete the milestone always remains uncertain.

How Much Does It Cost To Design An App?

The design of an app is again an important aspect influencing its cumulative cost of development or we can say app development cost.

You can minimize the overall cost here by using ready-made design templates. However, the more customization you need, the more it will cost.

components impact app design cost

Visual design: It signifies the look and the feel of your app. Being business owners, how do you want your users to perceive your apps? The better it looks, the customer engagement will be higher.

This also means that an intuitive and visually engaging UI will add more to the total development costs when compared to a normal design.

UX design: The way your app should work on the front-end is called user experience design. Here, UX designers study user behavior and heavily rely on research and relevant data to develop an app that gives an engaging user experience. An exceptional experience for users can add significant value to your app.

Icon, logo, and branding: Branding being an important part of the process; you simply cannot discount it. Starting from your icon to the logo and social media accounts – make sure to keep everything updated and elegant.

You must consider hiring a professional graphic designer for creating the logo and icons for your app. Having an appealing icon can make you stand out from the crowd. And you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

UX Writing: The UX copy is as important as the overall design and aesthetics. A poorly written copy can ruin your app’s entire user experience.

Thus, it is recommended that you hire a seasoned copywriter for creating the UX copy for your app. Make sure your copy clearly states the benefits and help users understand the value of using the different features it has.

Finally, talking about the app design costs, the icon, logo, and copy can cost you anywhere between $500 to $2000 each. For UX and visual design, expect to pay much more. A pro UI/UX design firm can charge you up to $20,000 a project.

Here is the list of app design tools used by mobile app designers.

mobile app designing tools

It is worth noting that if you’re hiring an end-to-end mobile application development company – it will have an in-house team for everything. And this means you will be able to get it all done at an affordable price.

However, if you’re choosing an agency that only offers development services, you may need to find other partners for the rest of the services. Hence, the overall cost could be comparatively high – as different agencies will have their own rates.

If you are looking to get it done in-house, the rates to hire a designer can vary a lot. Expect to pay at least $40 per hour on the lower end and up to $250 per hour for a senior UX designer.

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How Much Does It Cost To Make An Android App?

Based on your requirements, the development phase may include implementing features, back-end infrastructure, and other UI/UX components. Apart from this, post-deployment services including app promotion and maintenance can also be provided.

As per the project’s intricacy, the team size and structure can also vary. While the number of Android developers and designers may vary per project – a project manager is a prerequisite for every project.

When we start our cooperation, we make a rough estimate according to your requirements and the description of your idea. We determine the approximate number of hours required to develop the application.

Having received your approval we move on to detailed estimation, building app logic, wireframes, and creating detailed project documentation.

However, to give you a rough idea, the average cost to develop an app for Android could cost you anywhere from $15,000 to $80,000 or beyond — depending on the features of the app.

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How Much Does It Cost To Make An iPhone App?

The size of a project is the deciding factor in its cost as long as the rate for programming services and the time are tied together in one bundle. By size, we mean the complexity of functionality and business logic. Development can also include:

  • Designs with animation
  • Prototyping
  • Custom solutions that require technical research
  • Unexpected outcomes and changes along the way

According to the average project estimates:

  • A simple iOS app with basic functionality usually takes up to two months to build and costs about $30k
  • A more complex app that requires more than two months of development will cost about $50k
  • A high complexity iOS or Android app with extensive enterprise data can last for more than six months and require $80k

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How Much Does It Cost To Hire An App Developer?

Two of the most important factors determining the cost of hiring dedicated developers are location and experience. Developers from countries like India can cost you significantly less than the ones from Australia or the US. But that’s not all. There are many more factors that can influence the entire cost of hiring an app developer. Let’s understand them.

Mobile App Development Platform: Native, Hybrid, or Cross-Platform
The costs of hiring a developer can vary based on the app development platform. For instance, if you are seeking to create a native app for iOS or Android, the costs of hiring an iOS developer and Android developer would be more than compared to a hybrid or a cross-platform app.

App Development Complexity
This one’s quite simple. The more complex features your app will have, the more will be the app development cost – irrespective of the iOS and Android developer you choose.

Having said that, the development time of any mobile app development project can range from one week to 6 months and sometimes, even more.

And thus, understanding your mobile app requirements will enable you to understand all the development phases, methodologies, and determine the ideal time frame for your project.

Explaining the simple, clear, and basic version needs the developer that will take a lower rate and shorter time to build your app. And the average cost of hiring a mobile app developer in a country like the US will be $138,539.

Here is a graph that tells how much do developers charge from the different regions of the world.

app development cost by regions

How Much Does It Cost To Make An App For Your Business?

A popular survey by Clutch revealed that the entire cost to build an app that’s functionally rich and complex can be $171,450.

According to that survey, creating an app can cost you anywhere from $30k to $700k. Most of that cost depends on your overall requirements.

Check this image to learn how to reduce overall app development costs.

reduce-cost-to-develop-app

A few components that influence its cost include:

  • Wireframe, SRS, and Feature List
  • UI and UX Design – Images, Typography, Iconography, Aesthetic elements
  • User Engagement- Push notification, SMS, Social Media
  • Payment Gateways
  • New user Sign-in
  • Use of Location Data
  • Cross-channel Functioning
  • Third-party Integrations
  • Live Chat

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Things to Consider Before Choosing App Development Company

Now that you know what it will cost you to build your app, it’s time to hire an agency or developer for your project.

While there are countless app development companies out there, you must ensure the one you hire fits right to your needs. Let’s look at a few things that you must consider before hiring your tech partner.

things to consider while choosing app development company

Portfolio & Clientele:
While you’re in the discovery stage, you must check your their previous projects and the client base before hiring them. Check whether they have worked on projects that belong to your niche or with clients that resonate with you? If so, how is the result?

A company’s portfolio and the clientele is a subtle reflection of their capabilities and potential. And hence, having a quick look at it will help you understand your technology partner and their capabilities.

Expertise:
Make sure that the company or developer you hire is competent enough to handle your project well. A few key indicators of a company’s expertise include their years of experience, clientele, and a number of dedicated resources. Choose an agency that can help you create even the most intricate mobile applications.

Client Testimonials:
Look at what people are talking about the company on platforms other than their own website. You can consider checking their client experiences at various independent reviewing platforms like Clutch, GoodFirms, and Appfutura.

Apart from that, you can also look for threads, topics, or questions about them on forums like Quora, and Reddit. This way, you will have a brief idea about their working patterns and how well they treat their clients.

Apart from the above-mentioned ones, there are many more things you should consider before hiring an agency or Android and iOS developer team for your project to build your app.

Things like the timeline, the pricing options they offer, the platforms they work with, and their overall involvement in the project. Once you know your partner enough — the project execution will become seamless.

Frequently Asked Questions

What complexities increase the cost of app development?

The server costs, app complexity or functions, number of pages, the type of design, and admin authorization – are some of the factors influencing the mobile app development budget size.

During the discovery stage, your development team will help you evaluate all such complexities that you might encounter during various app development stages.

How long does it take to build an app?

Multiple factors decide the time to develop an app, such as features and functionalities, complexity, app design, and development complications. Generally, it takes 2-3 weeks to 9+ months to build an app.

How much can it cost to host an app on Apple App Store?

It charges $99 per year to get a developer account to host an app on Apple App Store.

How much can it cost to host an app on Google Play Store?

Google Play Store charges for a lifetime registration at $25. Here, one has to pay 30% for every purchase. However, this charge will decrease to 15% for subscription apps after a year.

How much does it cost to run/maintain an app?

Maintaining an existing mobile application is as important as developing it in the first place. There are so many moving pieces to it. Let’s look at a few of the most important aspects of app maintenance:

Bug Fixing:
Over time, you will discover a lot of bugs in your app. Combating them is extremely crucial to keep your app running optimally round the clock. And hence, it is essential to constantly look out for inconsistencies in the app and address them as soon as possible.

OS Upgrades:
All the mobile operating systems are evolving exponentially. Thus, if you’re seeking to stay ahead of your competition, you must keep up with the operating system upgrades. This means you will need to create new versions of your app very frequently.

Feature Upgradation:
You will need to add a new feature set to your app on a regular basis. This will help you keep your users engaged, and they will spend more time on your app. The cost of feature up-gradation will vary based on the kind of app features you wish to add.

Pushing Fresh Content:
Constantly updating the content will help you keep the app fresh – ultimately contributing positively to the overall experience for users. Thus, you must invest in pushing new and fresh content while updating the existing one.

Apart from the above-mentioned ones, there are many more aspects when it comes to maintaining an enterprise mobile app. It’s recommended to hire a reliable app development agency to take care of app maintenance. They will take care of everything from adding a new feature set to upgrade the app to the latest version of the OS.

Generally, app maintenance costs can vary from 20 to 30 percent of the total development cost. Maintenance cost primarily depends on the type and complexity of the app.

How long does it take to develop an app?

It generally takes 4-6 months to make an app from the ground up. However, this timeline depends on the intricacy and scale of the project.

Where do I look for mobile app developers or agencies?

There are several platforms where you can find reliable technology partners based on their expertise. A few of the most popular platforms include Clutch, GoodFirms, and Toptal. These platforms have genuine reviews from the company’s previous clients. They will give you a clear idea of how grounded your potential technology partner is – when it comes to their core services.

Is the back-end development service included in app development costs?

Yes, in most cases, the cost to develop the back end of your app will be included in the app development costs. This means you won’t have to allow any extra resources to your existing app development budget.

Can I build an app for free?

While there are a few platforms allowing you to create mobile applications for free, we don’t recommend them. That’s because they offer limited functions and are not scalable. Thus, if you’re looking to create a robust and reliable app for your business, it is recommended that you choose to develop it from scratch. The stronger your foundation, the more reliable the app will be.

How do I make money from my app?

Two of the most common ways of monetizing an app include advertising and in-app purchases. Apart from that, you can also make money by selling subscriptions or merchandise directly through your app.

how do free apps make money

Conclusion

Evaluating the total app development costs can be really difficult. That’s because there are so many moving pieces to the mobile app development process. If you are seeking to create an app, you may consider consulting an expert like us.

We, being one of the leading app development companies in India, will help you to estimate the mobile app development cost, considering your app development budget. We will evaluate your requirement in detail and suggest the best possible solution.

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This way, you will have a brief idea about the mobile app development process and app development cost with its counterparts. Schedule a call today and our expert consultants will be happy to help.

This page was last edited on April 2nd, 2021, at 8:02.

Author Bio

Jigar Mistry

Jigar Mistry

Designation: Vice President (Technologies)

Jigar Mistry is Vice President (Technologies) at Space-O Technologies. He has 14+ years of experience in the web and mobile app development industry. He has expertise in different mobile app categories like health and fitness, eCommerce, and on-demand.

 
 

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