How Much Does it Cost to Build an App [A Complete Breakdown]

Amit Manchanda
Amit Manchanda
Listen to this Guide

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Are you seeking to develop a mobile app but are confused about application price assessments? This article is a goldmine of information for you then. It explores factors like app type, development region, and other complexities that can heavily influence the cost of building a mobile app. By the time you finish reading, you will be able to make decisions best suited for your business.

With around 6.6 billion active smartphone users worldwide, mobile apps are pervasive in the modern world. Given how popular they’re and how much revenue they bring, there’s no reason to miss out on them.

However, first of all, understanding how much it costs to build an app is essential. It is one of the first questions that most clients who approach us with an app idea ask.

The tentative cost to build a mobile app is $40,000 to $150,000 and can exceed $300,000 in some cases.

The keyword here is tentative because many factors like app type, functionality, complexity, selected vendor, and the development approach may influence it.

So, what is the actual cost of developing an app? Grab a coffee and read on because you’ll get a concrete answer today.

You must also check our mobile app development checklist to learn what to keep in mind while building a mobile app to ensure high quality.

7 factors influencing the cost of a mobile app

The cost of building a mobile app depends on many factors. However, the following seven factors play a critical role:

What is New Product Development
  • The complexity level of app development

    Estimating the cost of creating an app is much like planning a home. The more features you’ll add, the higher the price will be.

    Simple apps take less development time and cost you less. But if you want to integrate advanced mobile app features into your mobile app, the development time will increase, and you’ll have to spend more. Hence, it’s essential to ask yourself the following questions:

    • How many features are you implementing into your app?
    • Is the application’s business logic complex?
    • How many screens, buttons, and functions will it have?

    Here’s a more detailed breakdown of mobile app development price based on complexity (assuming $40/hour as the average app price):

    Level of Complexity Features Examples Development Time Cost
    Simple Apps
    • Essential features like profile making, search, notifications, and messages
    • No added benefits
    • No added benefits
    • Fewer screens
    Calendar, calculator, or camera apps 2-3 months $40000-$60000
    Average Apps
    • Essential features, in addition to in-app purchases and payment portals
    • Allows API integration
    • More screens than the basic version
    • Custom UI
    • Real-time messaging and other features
    McDonald’s Loyalty App 3-6 months $61,000-$150,000
    Complex Apps
    • Multi-functional apps
    • Advanced features like real-time synchronization
    • UI animation
    • Media processing
    Uber, Instagram 9 months or more $300,000+

    It is essential to keep the level of complexity in mind because your budget can quickly go overboard if you stuff your app with too many features.

    Common features of mobile apps

    Estimating the cost of some core features

    Keeping $40/hour as the average price, let’s have a brief rundown of how much it costs to create an app depending upon the types of features that make up a typical mobile app:

    Feature Function Time (Hours) Cost (USD)
    User Login From the simple username/password combination to convenient social media logins to secure 2-factor authentication systems, most apps have some sort of login. 20 $800
    Monetization Schemes In-app purchases, shopping carts, and payment integration are all separate features with their development costs. 50+ $2500+
    Messaging Vital for social media apps, the ability for users to communicate and interact with one another is a project in its own right. 80+ $3200+
    Geolocation A no-brainer for travel, restaurant, and dating apps—geographic location can be just as vital to your users as user analytics. 50 $2500
    Search Many users expect some sort of search functionality, product catalogs, photo galleries, videos, or other content. 10+ $400+
    Push Notifications To keep users updated and in the loop about what’s happening on your app, notifications can encourage engagement and user retention when adequately employed. 0 to 20 $40-$800

    Note: This is a break-up of standard features combined to build simple mobile apps. Here are other factors that affect the complexity and cost of building an app:

    • Whether the application will rely on an internet connection.
    • The app’s pricing model (e.g., free vs. subscription-based payment vs. single-purchase model.)
    • Whether the app will require back-end support.
  • App type

    We can generally classify mobile apps into Native, Web, and Hybrid. Each app type is unique based on its requirements, business logic, and functionalities.

    • Native apps are built with language native to the operating system of a given device, like Objective C or Swift for the iOS platform and Java or Kotlin for the Android platform.
    • Web apps are mobile version of a website that uses responsive design to ensure a smooth user interface across varied screen sizes – from tablets to smartphones.
    • Hybrid apps are built using a combination of web and native technologies and are thus best suited to cater to the needs of a large audience.

    To help you understand how much it costs to build different app types, here is a comparison table highlighting the difference between Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid mobile application developments:

    Web Native Hybrid
    Cost $60,000-$300,000 $50,000-$300,000 $40,000-$200,000
    Performance Depends upon the internet connectivity and browser performance. Highly efficient as they can access native device features. Less performance due to limited access to native device features.
    Code Maintenance Low: The same code is used across all platforms High: A common code cannot be used for all devices. Moderate: Single code structure can be ported to all major platforms.
    Distribution Channel Directly available on the web Hosted in the App store of the operating system. Hosted in the App store of the operating system.
    Required Skills HTML, CSS, JavaScript Objective-C, iOS SDK, Java, Android SDK HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Mobile Development Framework
    Best Used For Apps that do not have high-performance requirements and have limited resources and funds. Apps that require high optimization levels, like Games or consumer-focused apps where performance, graphics, and overall user experience are necessary. Apps that do not have high-performance requirements but require full device access.
  • Development region

    Mobile app development is more affordable in some regions than others, and the primary reason behind it is the variation in programmers’ hourly rates.

    Here’s how much programmers from different regions charge on an hourly basis:

    Region Hourly rate (In $)
    United States of America $120-150
    United Kingdom $100-120
    Australia $100-120
    Western Europe $80-100
    Eastern Europe $30-50
    India $20-30

    As you can see, pricing is more affordable in India and Eastern Europe regions than US, UK, and Australia. You can build an app at almost 1/5th of the cost ($120-150/hour) you would have to spend in these regions.

    factors affecting the hourly rate of mobile app development
  • The platform on which your application will run

    Here’s an estimated cost of developing a mobile app for Android and iOS:

    Mobile App Type Estimated Development Time Estimated Cost
    Android App 1,200h $50,000-$300,000
    iOS App 1,200h $55,000-$300,000

    There’s not much difference between the cost of these two platforms. You can decide to build an app either in Android or iOS. You can even follow a stair-step approach, i.e., creating an app for one platform and then building it later for another. For instance, Instagram, first launched on iOS in 2010, became available for Android users only four years later i.e., in 2014.

    However, which platform to choose is another discussion. For this, you have to consider the following:

    Mobile App Type
    Market Share 86.2% 13.8%
    Development Complexity Many smartphones and tablets run on Android. You can’t find any operating system used by more than 50% of Android device owners. Apple has a limited number of devices that run on iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod). Most of these devices are updated to the latest iOS 11.
    Publishing Charges One-off $25 payment to upload your app + 30% of purchases made through the app. $99 annual fee + 30% of purchases made through the app.
    Development Time Android development takes time because of higher device complexity. iOS development is 40% faster than Android.

    You can also build a hybrid app if you want to target both the Android and iOS markets at the same time. Building these apps is much less expensive than building native apps together simultaneously.

  • Development approach

    You’re mistaken if you think the development approach doesn’t matter and significantly impacts the cost of building a mobile app. Hence, you must keep the development approach in mind while creating a mobile app.

    Following are the development approaches you can follow to build a mobile app:

    Development Approach Estimated Cost
    Hire a Local Agency Suppose you’re living in the US.
    Hourly rates of the Development & Design Team: $120-150
    If the total development time is 500 hours, the development cost will be:
    $120 * 500 = $60,000
    Let’s not forget the maintenance and operational costs.
    Having an in-house team Cost is even higher than hiring a local agency.
    Here are the salaries of various development team members:
    Full stack developer: $98,000 per year
    Designer: $85,000 per year
    iOS or Android Developer = $85,000 per year.
    There will be operational and maintenance costs as well.
    Hiring Freelancers Average hourly price of a freelancer depending on the country you’re hiring from
    • US: $50/hour
    • Ukraine: $25/hour
    • Latin America: $20/hour
    • Asia: $15 to $25/hour
    • If the total development time is 500 hours, the development cost will be:
    • US: $25000
    • Ukraine: $12500
    • Latin America: $10000
    • Asia: $7500 – $12,500
    Hire an outsourcing partner Hourly outsourcing rates:
    • North America: $38 – $63

    • Eastern Europe: $25 to $50

    • Western Europe: $20 – $45

    • Latin America: $30 – $50

    • Africa: $20 – $40

    • Asia: $18 – $40

    • If the total development time is 500 hours, the development cost will be:
    • North America: $19000 – $31,500
    • Eastern Europe: $12,500 – $25,000
    • Western Europe: $10,000 – $22,500
    • Latin America: $15,000 – $25,000
    • Africa: $10,000 – $20,000
    • Asia: $9000 – $20,000

    Looking at the table, hiring a freelancer is the most affordable option. However, it comes at a price. With freelancers, you get no accountability. There’s no guarantee on a well-built app. Hence, hiring an app development agency is more viable. It costs you less than hiring an in-house team or a local agency and gives you accountability for your app.

  • Complexity level of application design

    Much like application development, more customizations in your app design lead to higher costs. For a detailed overview, you must look at the following aspects:

    • User experience: The cost of an app will differ based on engagement levels and intricacies of user experience, such as button placement, color psychology, and users’ eye pattern.
    • User Interface: Visual elements like layout, screen, color, and typography will also have a significant impact on the mobile app cost.
    • Branding: You would have to spend more if you want to make your app stand out from a crowd of hundreds of similar brands.
    • UX Writing: Hiring a UX writer from a native English-speaking country will cost you more than hiring from a non-native one.
    • Architecture: A complex mobile app architecture with multiple layers and components leads to high mobile app development costs as it requires more time and expertise to design, implement, and maintain it.

Hidden costs associated with mobile app Development

Here are a few additional costs associated with mobile app development that you can’t ignore:

  • Functional costs like the fee for third-party integrations. They can cost you anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000 per year
  • Maintenance costs like the amount spent for fixing bugs, releasing updates, and paying server fees. These maintenance costs are around 20% of app development costs per year.
  • Marketing costs to promote your app through app store optimization, paid advertising, PR, and influencer marketing. They cost around 40% per year of the original development cost.

The approximate cost of building different mobile apps

  • Cost of building a marketplace app like Airbnb

    A marketplace app is a fusion of an on-demand app and an eCommerce store. Hence, it takes more time to develop. Hence, the cost is usually on the higher side. Talking about the Airbnb app, it has the following advanced features:

    • Search for available living units and last-minute bookings
    • Save a list of favorite homes and places
    • Co-planning of a trip and referral system
    • Advanced booking workflow
    • In-app communication

    Keeping these factors in mind, the cost of a marketplace app like Airbnb will start from $75,000.

    Estimated cost of building a marketplace app
  • Cost to build a dating app like Tinder

    Tinder works on a simple mechanism, i.e., swipe right and left to like or dislike a person. It has the following features:

    • Authorization
    • GPS location
    • User profile
    • Matching functionality
    • Push notifications
    • Communication
    • Third-party integration

    Such apps can cost you around $45,000.

    Estimated cost of building a dating app
  • Cost to build a social media app like Instagram

    Social networking apps like Instagram heavily focus on social interactions and information sharing. Hence, you must plan them with the intent to process lots of data.

    Following are the features social networking apps must have:

    • Profile building
    • Media publishing (for sharing videos and images)
    • Social interactions (liking a post or commenting on them)
    • Push notifications

    Such apps cost anywhere from $60,000 to $300,000.

    Estimated cost of building a social media app
  • Cost to build a ride-hailing app like Uber

    A ride-hailing app like Uber has 3 applications: 2 mobile apps for the passenger and driver + 1 web application for the admin panel. Besides, it has the following features:

    • SMS and push notifications
    • Payment integration
    • Geolocation
    • Routing and advanced route optimization.

    A ride-hailing app can cost you around $50,000.

    Estimated cost of building a ride-hailing app
  • Cost to build a successful brand-based app like Ikea

    Brand-based apps like Ikea are feature-heavy and can significantly increase app development costs. Following are the features these brand-based apps have:

    • Augmented reality
    • 3D product visualization
    • 360-degree view of products
    • Real-time dashboard and analytics
    • CRM integration

    Such apps can cost you more than $80,000.

    Estimated cost of building a brand-based app

How Net Solutions can help you build a mobile app on a tight budget

Whether you’re a small to medium-sized brand or an established enterprise looking to revitalize your existing digital presence, our team can deliver a solution that works for you.

– Net Solutions

Finding a reliable app development partner can be challenging. You need to consider many factors, which can be overwhelming at times. However, the mobile app development experts at Net Solutions can help you build a secure and scalable mobile app on an affordable budget. Contact us to get the most affordable app development costs and plans.

OCR Case Study

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Freelancers vs. app development company – which one is better?

Pricing-wise, freelancers appear to be more affordable. However, they offer no accountability for your mobile app. You can’t hold them accountable if the app doesn’t turn out to be as expected. On the other hand, an app development agency takes complete responsibility for your mobile app. Hence, an app development agency is better than a freelancer.

2. How much time does it take to develop an app?

Depending on the complexity of a mobile app, it can take several weeks to several months to develop it. An app like Uber takes around 1200 hours to develop. On the other hand, a dating app like Tinder can be developed in 1000 hours.

3. Why is India preferred for app development outsourcing worldwide?

Here are a few reasons why India is one of the preferred outsourcing destinations:

  • The average outsourcing charges in India are $18 – $40, which is way more affordable than in developed countries like the USA, $38 – $63.
  • India has a large pool of native-English speakers who’re highly proficient in their work.
  • With an Indian outsourcing partner, you can access 24×7 support and specialized IT talent.

4. How do I choose a trustworthy app development company?

Here are a few things to remember to choose a reliable mobile app development partner:

  • Choose a partner that cares about its clients.
  • Never compromise on technology experience and domain expertise.
  • Check out your development partners’ portfolios, customer testimonials, and references.
  • Observe how they approach communication and how much they pay attention to your vision.
  • Ask the right questions to help you choose easily.
Amit Manchanda
Written by

Amit Manchanda

Amit Manchanda is a seasoned Project Lead with a passion for technology and a knack for delivering successful software projects. With expertise in ASP, Adobe Flex, and Android development, he has established himself as a proficient developer and leader in the industry.

When he's not immersed in coding or leading development teams, Amit indulges in his love for cricket. He finds solace in watching cricket. The game is a source of inspiration for his work, reminding him of the importance of strategy, adaptability, and teamwork.

contact us