The mobile application market shows no signs of stopping and, of course, more and more people are investigating the problem of how much it costs to make an application. While some use applications for communication, games, lifestyle, business, food, sports, etc., the creation of an application is a business for some of us.
The good news is that, in reality, it is not as expensive as most of us think. In addition, there are many resources available that allow you to create an application for yourself and for free. Before reviewing everything in detail, we will give a brief summary about the cost of application development and its main considerations.
How much does it cost to make a mobile app?
When omitting all the factors in the cost breakdown, the average price to create an application is $ 171,450 USD . Online application cost calculators mention a price range between $ 2,000 USD and $ 350,000 USD for an application with a multitude of features. While the typical cost range established by the application development companies is $ 100,000 USD to $ 500,000 USD . But there’s no need to panic – small applications with basic functions can cost between $ 1,000 USD and $ 5,000 USD , so it’s an opportunity for any type of business.
In general, the cost of producing a mobile application varies extremely: from a price of zero dollars to an incredibly expensive price that could reach a billion. Although, frankly, there is no simple answer to this question due to multiple factors that are at stake. The different development rates, the amount of documentation required, the complexity of the project and the time it takes to build an application affect the cost of producing a mobile application. The price to make an application depends on the following aspects:
- type (mobile game, business, social networks, life style, etc.)
- platforms (iOS, Android, etc.)
- design (basic, individual, personalized)
- number of pages
- characteristics and infrastructure
|Time, hours||Cost at $50/ hour||
Cost at $150 / hour
|Simple||No API integration, no back-end, standard UI components, simple characteristics such as email subscription, initiation of social sessions, calendar, etc.||
|Moderate||Custom user interface functions, payment features, API integration, headset and tablet adaptation, back-end service server.||
|Up to 40,000||
Up to 80,000
|Complex||Multilanguage support, third-party integrations, custom animations, complicated back-end, professional design, real-time features.||
|Up to 75,000||
Up to 150,000
Remember, the above figures only serve as guidance to perceive a possible cost of producing a mobile application. Each application is different, it is like asking about the price of a house or a car, you cannot know the exact price without knowing about the specifications. In addition, the estimate is based on the time and minimum effort required to technically build an application. And, of course, be prepared to pay more so that your application is awesome!
Graphically, the costs vs. functionalities can look like this:
|$ 1,000 +||$ 40,000 – 80,000||$ 75,000 – 150,000|
|2 months||2 – 4 months||4 – 8 months|
Now, a more practical tool to calculate the cost of your application is found below. The average cost of making an application depends largely on the type of application you choose to develop.
These are applications that are large, heavy, and point to the best user experience with optimization and fast work. They can use the APIs of various devices and process a wide range of functions at the same time. Native applications will become as expensive as the number of platforms you want to support because there will be more people involved in the development process of the application. Native applications are usually business applications, entertainment applications and education applications.
Also known as multiplatform applications, which are the most appropriate for reaching a wider audience from the start. Its development and maintenance cost less if a single team is involved and a single code is used which works for all platforms. Meanwhile, cross-platform applications tend to be less optimized, have no access to APIs and cannot provide the native user experience. Cross-platform applications are suitable for small and medium communication applications, lifestyle applications or game applications.
Basic functionality applications
They are quick to develop and include very few or even no features. Most are developed for personal use and you will probably never find anything like this type of application in the app stores. They are usually designed to display a list of topics – by clicking on one of them, a user can view information about it or open a new list.
Used for more complex applications with massive data handling, store directly in the memory of the device or in a web server. To function as desired, additional functions such as camera, Internet connection or access to the gallery may be required. Examples of native applications that use the device memory to store the data library are several mobile dictionaries or encyclopedias.
Applications that depend on the firmware / hardware of the device
These types of applications access a mobile device and seek to improve its functionality. It could be a camera, a flashlight, an alarm clock or any other function. For example, AlarmMon allows users to customize the alarm clock, while also adding additional functions, such as a puzzle that has to be solved in order to disarm the alarm.
Mobile games / Games applications
Games can be both simple and fairly advanced, with 3D and physical graphics, global ratings, Augmented Reality (AR) support, and even social network integration. Obviously, a more complex game costs more, so it is difficult to say exactly without estimating how much it can cost to make an application. Game applications are the most popular category of applications worldwide and, generally, the most profitable ones. For example, Angry Birds cost close to $ 140,000 USD to develop and generated more than $ 70 million in the first year.
Who can develop my application idea?
Basically, we have 2 options: mobile application development agencies and independent developers. Let’s look at each of them. Hiring a professional agency surely seems to be the most expensive option. But the reliability is much better, and a team of developers will help you get the best application of your idea. Designers, programmers, project managers, all of them are trained and accustomed to working as a team.
The hourly rates vary widely throughout the world, regardless of the quality of the final product. Therefore, if you have a good concept and a clear strategy, there is no need to pay more, because a high price does not mean high quality.
Advantages of hiring an application agency:
- All in one: good companies have all the staff, all that you need. No need to search for programmers, designers or testers separately.
- See for what you pay: portfolio, project estimate and hourly rates, know everything you get before paying.
- Discipline and skill: companies make sure that employees do their work on time and do it right.
As a disadvantage, one can declare a higher cost, since, for obvious reasons, developers charge higher prices among other options. Now let’s review the cost of independent developers. Good Free Lancers can still create superior applications no worse than developer companies. They would have the same quality but at a lower cost. Then, we can assign the greatest professional to independent programmers – the cheapest cost compared to the software development companies.
Cons of hiring Free Lancers:
- Find them all, unlike agencies that offer a full development team;
- No project manager to control the process, so be prepared to coordinate the team, the deadlines and the budget;
- Communication problems among project members;
- Lack of skills.
Extra options for a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach
Application templates or startup kits. If you have an idea similar to any popular application, there is a high probability of finding the source code for $ 25 – 200 USD per license. However, you still need designers to change the look of the application and programmers to change the way it works.
The online “application creators”. Building an application without any programming knowledge sounds wonderful. To be honest, most applications of this type are limited in options, tools and even types and genres. It can be full of errors, poorly optimized and lack the functions that have been planned. Subscription costs to use these tools start from $ 10 USD per month or may cost $ 5,000 USD initially.
Partnership to create an application and divide the profits. I can only give you two words: Too Risky.
Cost of the development team to create an application.
Even a small application must be done by a team and not by a single person in order to provide a better user experience. It would be faster and more qualitative in the end, because everyone is committed and responsible for their own part of the project. Surely, complex applications require more people to participate in the development process.
A basic development team may include:
- Project Manager
- UI / UX designer
- Quality control engineer
Extended development team:
- 1 project manager
- 2-4 application developers
- 1 backend developer
- 1-2 UI / UX designers
- 1 quality control engineer
- 1 system administrator
The duties and cost are represented in the table below.
Rate per hour
|Project Manager||Monitors for any lack of communication and misconduct within the team thereby avoiding pitfalls and meeting deadlines.||
$ 60 +
|Developer||Writes the code of an application, integrates it with the data source and corrects errors.||
$ 30 +
|Backend Developer||Ensures that the application, the database and the server communicate with each other correctly and that the entire application works correctly.||
$ 25 +
|Designer||Works on how an application interface would be designed and how users would feel it. Solve different optimization tasks.||
$ 15 +
|Tester||Monitors every part of the application, controls the code and quality of the design, ensures that the final product meets all project requirements.||
$ 20 +
The cost for the design of the application
The design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of a measurable human object, system or interaction, this is what we find in Wikipedia. A famous quote by Steve Jobs adds that design is not only how it looks and feels, design is how it works. In the development of mobile applications, the design involves aspects such as visual design, UX and user interfaces, logos, icons, brands, wireframes, etc.
The design of the application is an integral part of the cost to make an application. What are the factors that impact it?
If you want to hire a senior professional designer, be prepared to pay up to $ 150 USD per hour or even more. At the same time, a less experienced designer can only take $ 45 USD per hour.
The cost of hiring designers in different parts of the world varies: USA and Canada: $ 50-250 USD per hour, Australia: $ 50 – 150 USD , Western Europe and United Kingdom – $ 35- 40 USD , Eastern Europe – $ 25- 150 USD.
The cost of the simple application design starts from $ 5,000 (for example, the Pomodoro timer, the flashlight), the application design of medium complexity starts from $ 10,000 (for example, Journey, WhatsApp), the design of complex applications from $ 25,000 (eg. Facebook, Evernote).
iOS or Android
The iPhone varies from just $ 3,000 to $ 10,000 , while the design for Android phones can cost between $ 4,000 and $ 12,500.
Cost for key features of the mobile application
Approximately 80% of mobile applications take more than 3 months to develop, and 40% require 6 months or more. How is that? One could ask. Well, application development is a complex process, and the cost of creating an application depends mainly on the set of features plus the design. Let’s examine the common characteristics of the application in terms of time and cost.
Before that, we must bear in mind that there is no single price for the development of an application, since the characteristics are different for each project, they have their own logic, they can have several designs, etc. You will find more information on this in the description of the features below. We will use low hourly rates ( $ 25 USD ) and medium rates ( $ 50 USD ) for estimates.
- User login
This is when users of the application have to register and log in to an application to use it. They register by email or phone, though logging in through social media accounts is the most popular option. Social login facilitates access to an application, as well as automatically creating a user profile and collecting all public data about a person. This is a standard practice in the development of applications, and takes around 20 hours . It translates into a cost of $ 500-1,000 USD .
- Push notifications
It is an indispensable feature for 99% of today’s applications. These are real-time updates that keep users informed of any activity related to an application or service. The trick here is that there are several types of notifications: simple text, with images or with action buttons. In addition, the logic of the application is important: when and to whom (for example, in chat applications) notifications are sent. The development period is between 20 and 200 hours . The cost can range between $ 1,000 and $ 10,000 USD .
Navigation takes into account all the user flows through an application that must be anticipated and designed before the development. The navigation of the application defines how users move from one screen to another, how they return to the main menu, how they perform actions, close the application, etc. Scrolling, swiping, action buttons, arrows, icons and more, means that the architecture of the user interface is the basis for building an application. This logic requires more than 10 hours , which can cost $ 250-500 USD
- Portrait / landscape view
In relation to the previous feature, the interface concept is also part of any application. This is basically the way in which users are presented with a list of items in an application, also known as master flow / detail in the Android community and vertical / horizontal orientation for Apple’s iOS. Depending on the type of design, developers can configure the view in approximately 20 hours for approximately $ 500-1,000 USD.
- Multimedia content
Although it is assumed that interactive functions appear by default, they are also the result of certain work. Some applications need images, videos, some applications need compatibility with audio files. And, of course, most modern messaging applications and social networks need everything, in addition to editing capabilities, effects, filters, emoticons, emoticons, etc.From the developer’s perspective there are some tips in this document. For example, C ++ is a more appropriate language than Java to implement multimedia content in applications. In addition, the native development kits (NDK) are a great help. In general, application engineers require at least 20 hours for this, so we can start from $ 1,000.
A feature that is crucial for taxi applications, dating applications, restaurant applications, business applications, travel applications and much more. It is based on the GPS of the phone and user permissions in real time (necessary and optional). Regarding the cost, it depends on the accuracy of the geolocation service and it is generally divided into general area, middle range proximity and precise location. Expect no less than 50 hours of development, therefore, a cost of $ 1,025-2,500 USD.
- Google Maps integration
Along with geolocation, if your project involves the integration of Google Maps in your mobile application, developers will need 20 hours at least to do so. The other side is indeterminable, since everything depends on the ways of incorporating maps with the logic of the application, the tasks that must be executed, etc., so the development can take a long time. On the positive side, official Google services are at hand. The cost starts at $ 1,000 USD.
- Chat / Messaging
It is also an essential feature for many applications, although there are many variables at play in order to calculate the cost. To be specific, what type of chat do we want? Is it a direct message from person to person or a group chat? Is it compatible with file transfer? Do you save the messaging and history or delete them automatically after a certain time? Do you have offline mode? Do you have smileys / emojis in it? Do you send notifications (send, view, upload, etc.)? We can say the exact cost with all the technical specifications available, but we expect no less than 80 hours to develop a chat. The cost will start at $ 2,000-4,000 USD.
Mobile advertising is shown to people who use an application, such as a simple text, banner or full-screen pop-up windows. Ads can be tailored, although there are many external services and networks (Google AdMob, InMobi, Tapjoy, Flurry and more), SDK and API, which greatly help developers. Therefore, this function should take between 20 to 50 hours , depending on the type. The cost range can be $ 1,000-2,500 USD.
- In-app purchases
Ads within applications obviously involve purchase options directly from the user’s smartphone. There may be several contents or articles to buy: products or services, subscriptions, new / Premium functions, etc. The development of this function should not be difficult for a contracted agency or a developer, and the time to do it depends basically on the number of Articles and should be approximately 30 hours . The estimated cost is $ 750-1,500 USD.
- Integration of payments
Of course, so that users can buy something within an application, a payment system must also be installed. There are many system options to choose from: Android Pay, Apple Pay, ePayco, Redeban, PayPal and many more. Developers can integrate most of them into an application directly through the gateway APIs.The scope of this task depends on several factors: how payments are processed, how and where the data is stored, how secure the transactions are, what level of PCI compliance (payment card industry) is provided, etc. Our own Android and iOS developers admit that they need approximately 50 hours or more to integrate a payment system. So, if we take an average of 2 mobile payment methods, the cost of this function would range between $ 2,500 and $ 5,000 USD.
- Synchronization between devices
In our era of high interconnectivity and mobility, access to information reaches a point where it is about winning or losing. Especially for companies that work with computers, smartphones, tablets or PDAs. Take commercial applications as an example: when you update articles or inventory on your central server, you need all the clients of the application to see the exact updated data. The cost of implementing the synchronization function in mobile applications is linked to: A) the amount of data, B) the type of data structure. With the help of special platforms / services, such as Firebase for Android devices, developers require more than 50 hours , the approximate cost is $ 1,250-2,500 USD.
This feature is designed for applications such as Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Twitch, etc. Direct configuration depends on several factors. First, the logic of the application and the processing of data. Is the data sent to a server in real time and transmitted from there, or through the option “record and send” through a local file? Second, what audio / video file formats are compatible? Also, what are the settings for the cameras of the users’ phones and the connection to the Internet? In the end, a minimum of 30 hours of development is needed, and this would cost at least $ 1,500 USD .
- Multi-language support
When an application needs to be presented in several languages for different regions, simply and plainly. Two main aspects that impact this task and its cost are the scope of the data and the UI settings. The same versions of an application as the main would require approximately 15 hours of developer time. In case the interfaces have to be readjusted (for example, for Arabic languages, RTL / LTR address in CSS, etc.) there is more work. So, this feature is not so expensive and costs around $ 350-750 USD.
- Offline mode
The beauty of many mobile applications is in having the ability to function offline. For example, in messaging applications you can still see your chat history until the last messages before losing the connection. There are some methods for offline data storage and access to data in mobile applications: local caching, cookies, shared preferences, and local storage and SQL databases. The main problem so far is in the determination of data groups and their rules. In general, developers need 40 hours or more, which costs $ 1,000-2,000 USD.
Following the offline mode, in many cases, your application probably requires a database to store data locally on a device. Mobile application developers often use a certain open source solution to set up a database. SQLite, for example, is an integrated and compact database / library that stores all data in a single file on a device. The task depends on the type of data and takes around 30 hours , which, in turn, costs $ 750-1,500 USD.
- Use of telephone sensors
Many applications depend on the capabilities of the phone. For example, a gyroscope is a sensor that measures the speed of rotation and provides 3 values: tilt, roll and azimuth. There’s also:
- Accelerometer, detecting the orientation of the phone.
- Digital compass, for orientation in relation to the magnetic field.
- GPS, accurate satellite positioning.
- Barometer, to help GPS obtain altitude data.
- Light sensor, to adjust the brightness of the screen automatically.
- Proximity sensor, to avoid tactile ear commands.
- Pedometer, calculating the user’s steps.
- Fingerprint sensor
and others depending on the mobile device. An average time to integrate the logic of the application with sensors is 10 hours of the developer. So it does not cost much ( $ 250-500 USD ).
It is when a user can control and change the perspective of the application to their liking. eg change of language, change from a list view to mosaics or full-width screen cards, etc. The estimation of these tasks is 20 to 25 hours per screen , as a general rule. If you need to create reusable elements to use in the future, that is, a custom SDK in terms of developer, that requires more than 35 hours of work. All in all, the minimum cost here starts at $ 1,500 USD.
The incorporation of custom search request functionality can significantly increase user participation. Surely, smartphones with Android and iOS have their own search, but you can improve it or make it unique for your application. How it does it and how much it costs depends on the type of search requests. At least 10 hours of development is required. The cost starts from $ 250-500 USD.
- Data encryption
The security of private data cannot be underestimated or overestimated today or at a future date. Encrypting data to prevent unauthorized access is absolutely a must for any mobile business application. This means converting the information into a code and only the sender and receiver involved can decipher it with the so-called “keys”. WhatsApp, for example, sends all messages with its unique key and block, which is known as end-to-end encryption.When implementing data encryption in a mobile application, first, the main aspect is the type of data. Do we need to encrypt a plain text, images, audio files, videos, etc.?
The second problem is the compatibility between devices because we want the owner of an Android phone to decipher the data of the owner of the iPhone. Right? Expect no less than 20 hours of development, which translates to a cost of $ 500-1,000 USD . We could continue with the list of features, but I think I have given you enough information to digest. Surely, the functionality of the application is not the only thing when considering how much it costs to make an application. The architecture of the application, design / UX, unit testing, error correction, code refactoring, project management or other things are also at stake.
So, how much does it cost to build an application? It depends on many factors. Development charges, application size, complexity and novelty of the technologies are included. We hope our little research will help you find your own answers. If not, we are always ready to help you estimate the idea of your application. The largest surveys in the industry suggest that the range of costs varies between $ 100,000 and $ 500,000 USD to develop a business mobile application.