Mobile app development cost has become one of the most searched for topics on the web. Even within companies large, medium and small, developers and project managers are on a continuous “hunt” for a generalized answer. After all, cost is what’s going to define the entire process and quality of the final product.
However, a better question would perhaps be which development option is more expensive: using your own in-house team, or a managed services provider? At first glance, you’d think that by hiring and training your own personnel, it would be faster and cheaper, but that isn’t true. The longer a project goes on, the more updates and bug fixes are required, and monthly costs keep going up.
When you outsource your mobile app development, or augment your team with contingent staff, you know from the get-go what you’re paying for. The specialist app developers give you a timeframe, and that’s how long it’s going to take. It’ll be a higher up-front cost, but you’ll benefit from greater savings and ROI in the long term.
Moreover, mobile app development must be done carefully, with a planned approach at every step. By working with experienced professionals, you directly benefit from their extensive expertise.
Even projects that are going to use advanced tech (such as augmented reality or complex AI) will be no problem. More experience also means faster results, as those experts have worked on such types of deliverables before.
So, without further ado:
Here’s The Actual Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown
Your final cost is going to depend on the scale of the project first and foremost. Developing a simple app versus a complex app has different requirements, with different specialists needed for the actual work. By simply broadly outlining what your app’s supposed to do, a 100% exact cost can’t be given.
A detailed description of the project is required, so that all parts can be carefully determined, and their importance weighed accordingly. If you’ll try to use online calculators to determine your mobile app’s complexity, you’ll find only general ideas about the real cost (but it’s a good start). The final price you’ll have to pay will possibly be higher, but don’t stress about it.
Just because an app might be more expensive to make than you originally planned, doesn’t mean that the idea should be abandoned. In fact, quite the opposite! If your app will turn out to be pricey, it means that it’s complex; so, it’s going to fulfill an important role for its user base.
This will translate to substantial ROI for you down the line, if the initial planning and audience research was done correctly.
In order to estimate your own mobile app development cost breakdown, think about the following factors:
- The app’s scope and features – what your audience will actually use the app for; the greater the complexity and range of functionalities, the more expensive it will be.
- Third party integrations – do you want content and options in your app that aren’t inherent to it? Features such as Google Maps will cost extra to be added.
- OS and device support – will your app be for both iOS and Android, or just one of them?
- Visual complexity – many visual objects can be added within mobile apps, but they differ in difficulty to implement.
- Use of hardware advantages – depending on the scope of your app, it can be beneficial for it to access hardware features of a smartphone device. For example, it could use the camera for augmented reality purposes, NFC for file transfer, GPS for navigation, and really any other part of the components.
- Team size – do you have a core in-house team which you want to improve with augmented staff? Or, do you need a complete array of developers? The way the mobile app development will proceed is quite dissimilar between the two, but both involve hourly rates (usually).
- Future plans – maintenance, fixes and updates to the app in the following months or years after launch.
Mobile App Development Average Prices
Once again, take the next costs as being in the ballpark of what you’re going to pay. These are rough estimates and average benchmarks, based on our own experience and the projects that we’ve worked on. Similarly, cost can also vary depending on the type of app.
A food delivery and a gaming app can both be simple or complex. However, those words mean the same thing only on paper. The “simple” or “complex” requirements for either would be very different.
- A simple app with few features: $45,000 to $60,000+
- An advanced app, with medium-level complexity: $60,000 – $150,000+
- A highly complex and customized app: $300,000+
Cost will also depend on more factors, such as if your app will be offline, or if it requires internet connectivity. Here’s a general idea of what you can expect from just a few types of features. Remember that it all depends on what you’re looking to build.
- Standardized, offline mobile app: ~$50,000+
- Mobile app with online requirements: ~$85,000+
- Chatbot with advanced AI: ~$125,000+
- Mobile app built for messaging: ~$300,000+
- Social networking mobile app: ~$400,000+
- Enterprise-level mobile app: ~$550,000+
- Mobile app designed around IoT (e.g: app that connects to wearable accessories): ~$1,000,000+
Other features’ usual cost:
- Push notifications: ~$5,000+
- Rating & Reviews: $5,000 – $15,000+
- Native integration: $5,000 – $25,000+
- Performance Management: $5,000 – $15,000+
App Development Cost Benchmarks
Nowadays, your cost is mostly based around the type of app you want to make (simple, advanced, complex). It used to be that iOS and Android apps could have major cost differences between them, but that’s no longer the case.
The only significant aspect which you must consider is the level at which you want your mobile app to be. What is it supposed to do, and how complicated should it be? At Five Pack Creative, we’ve developed web and mobile apps both small and large for fortune 500 companies and other businesses over the course of 10+ years.
From discovery & planning to design, UX/UI and development itself, we can confidently tell you that it all comes down to what you envision your mobile app doing.
- A simple app or MVP (minimum viable product) costs $60,000+, and the logic behind it will be elementary but efficient. The UI will be basic, without a bespoke approach.
- A medium-size app can be $150,000+, with extensive QA and a custom UI being done. Localizations can also be a point of interest.
- A complex app designed specifically for your business is $300,000+, with impressive animations, many screens, full customization and a complicated architecture.
The Stages of Mobile App Development Cost
You’ll want to allocate your venture capital for each stage of development in particular. This is why it’s crucial that you have an understanding of how much any of the stages can probably cost you.
The 4 stages of an app development’s cost are:
- Testing & Deployment
All 4 are equally important, as you can only proceed through them in this order. Failings in any of the stages will directly transition into the new one, creating unforeseen complications and issues. Each stage must be treated with careful planning, attention to detail and a proper investment of financial resources.
In the following sections, we’ll present statistical data from a B2B study done by Clutch in 2017. It’s going to highlight the average costs that were particular to over 100 companies back in 2017. This will give you a ballpark idea of how much you might end up spending on every stage.
This is your pre-research phase. Clarification of all elements happens here, and the foundation of your app development project is built. It’s very important to have these details clarified with your development agency of choice, as miscommunication will lead to unclear project objectives.
Never invest in your mobile app idea if you’re not sure yourself of what it’s supposed to do. When questions arise, go back to the drawing board and clarify everything with all parties involved. Strategy is key, and having S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) and C.L.E.A.R (collaborative, limited, emotional, appreciable, refinable) goals for your mobile app will go a long way.
Clutch found that an overwhelming 70% of app development projects simply need a discovery stage, but it’s recommended for everyone. In a bit over half of the analyzed businesses, the stage’s costs were under $5,000.
Typical activities during the discovery stage include:
- Market and competition research
- Analysis of app goals vs. its usefulness for the target group
- Creating a rough prototype of the mobile app
- Determining the project’s timeline, establishing objectives, laying the ground for project management
A refined mobile app development estimate will be given for the mobile app at the end of the discovery stage, but it’s advised to have a flexible budget. The costs can be higher than you expect sometimes, and it’s to the app’s (and your) detriment to cut corners.
|Discovery Cost||<$5,000||$5K – 10K||$10K – 15K||$15K – 25K||$25K+|
Once the app idea is fleshed out, it’s time for the design to be made. Frameworks (prototypes) will be presented to you until you agree on a final form. After that, the UX/UI design begins “in force”, with the goal of creating something that’s both visually stunning, as well as intuitive to use.
Design also tends to cost less than $5,000 as per Clutch’s study, but it can vary greatly depending on how many sections you want your app to have. Basically, every section equals a page on a website.
However, the design isn’t singular (different depending on platform), so the apps won’t be either (if you want an app for both mobile platforms). iOS and Android will require their own versions, each with their own cost. When an app is created, only iOS or Android can be its native operative system. So, keep this in mind, even if you’re seeing a single design.
|Design Cost||<$5,000||$5K – 10K||$10K – 15K||$15K – 25K||$25K – $50K||$50K+|
This is of course where the major part of the project is being done. The mobile app is being coded, with the front-end and the back-end being made functional. The design is implemented, made responsive, and the speed of the app is optimized.
The front-end developers make sure that everything’s going to look good. Swift, Kotlin and other programming languages and integrated development environments are used to create an app that people would want to use.
The back-end developers handle the code that makes the front-end actually work. Features, functionalities and other technical aspects are set up as per agreed specifications. The back-end also handles the framework, connecting a database, setting up the mobile app’s server, etc.
In over 100 cases from the 2017 study, these were the average development costs:
|Development Cost||<$5,000||$5K – 10K||$10K – 20K||$20K – 30K||$30K+|
Testing & Deployment Stage
When mobile app development finishes, it’s imperative that all features undergo rigorous quality assurance. A dedicated QA tester will carefully check every screen, every menu, every functionality. Errors, bugs, or aspects not 100% respecting specifications are reported back to the developers, which then fix them.
You should never prompt your development agency or in-house team to rush QA, as there’s only one chance to make a good first impression with your app. If it ends up on the app stores riddled with bugs, or even just a few but critical bugs, it will quickly gather negative reviews.
It’s a tricky road to get it back on track from there.
A majority of companies spent from $5,000 to $10,000 on QA and deployment.
|QA & Deployment Cost||<$5,000||$5K – 10K||$10K – 15K||$15K – 25K||$25K+|
Once the app is published, you shouldn’t consider the job done either. Post-launch support is a tremendous boon for your business’ scaling potential. It’s been proven time and again that users expect a product which’ll be regularly maintained, optimized, updated, and even reinvented. Caring for your mobile app means caring about your user base.
Maintenance costs will be higher in the first year of the product’s lifecycle, lower in the second year, and even lower after that, eventually reaching a steady cost.
Here you can see an idea for maintenance costs after 1 year of deployment.
|Post-launch Support Cost||<$5,000||$5K – 10K||$10K – 15K||$15K – 25K||$25K+|
Cost Calculators for Mobile Apps
If you want to do some math for mobile app development yourself before you get in touch for your bespoke cost, you can use a few tools across the web. The demand for such calculators has gone up exponentially with the popularity of mobile apps going up. Take them with a grain of salt though, as the costs you’ll be given aren’t 100% accurate. Don’t judge your ROI potential or corporate objectives solely on these results.
If you want to go this route, we advise using multiple calculators, and then creating an average from the given prices.
An intuitive option where you go through a comprehensive checklist about what you want your app to be about, and what technologies it should have. Depending on what you check, you’ll see a final price dynamically updating on the right. You can choose your app’s platform, quality, security, OS, integrations, etc. You can check it out here.
You go through a five-step process that’ll give you a mobile app development price and time estimate. You can then export the result as a .PDF. Choices to select from include web/mobile platform, user profiles, revenue generation method, high tech features, etc. Have a look at it here.
10 questions that begin with your selection of a more standard or custom-built app. Every choice you make for the app you want to build will change the amount of hours that it will take. You can then see a final estimate. Try it out here.
You can calculate a cost for both mobile apps and desktop software. What’s different about Inoxoft is that you also get an estimated range for every step of the process. Try it yourself here.
27 questions, starting with the industry for which you want the mobile app development done. You’ll walk through every question in particular, in an easy and straightforward process. Besides building your custom price, you’ll get a summary of everything you’ve chosen. However, bear in mind you won’t get the cost unless you fill in a contact form at the end. You can have a closer look here.
Estimate My App calculator
A straight-to-point calculator with a friendly and intuitive user interface. You get 10 criteria where you can select 1 or multiple items for your app, and the cost updates in real time at the bottom of the page. You also have the option of selecting precisely what you’re calculating the cost for: a web app (or back-end for mobile), iOS app or Android app. Start your estimation here.
Mobile App Maintenance Costs
Like we’ve mentioned previously, you’ll have to cover the maintenance costs too once the app is launched. Usually, you can expect to spend 15% – 20% of the initial development cost. Overall, you’ll be paying for hosting, updates, licensing, and marketing.
Back-end data hosting is a must, but your cost will depend almost solely on the type of data that your app needs. Text is of course the least demanding element. However, if your app uses media-rich items, such as audio or video, then you need a different kind of hosting. Web-servers with better CPUs and RAM cost more, and you could even be looking at up to $350 per month (depending on the number of users, this could be much higher). We recommend checking out Amazon AWS or Google Cloud.
The plain truth is that you’ll hardly ever release the “perfect” app. That would mean years and years of development, delaying launch every time you have another idea, or want to improve another feature. In practice, every mobile app with a serious business behind it gets constantly better from version 1.0 down the line.
Actually publishing an update to the mobile stores takes only about 1 hour, but developing the updates will vary drastically depending on the nature of the update. The most ambitious ones will be updates that add entirely new features, or significantly rework existing ones.
Always keep an ear open for user feedback, as the best updates are the ones that are highly requested.
If during the mobile app development, it is decided that certain licensed technologies must be used to create some functionalities, you’ll have to cover the costs. Licenses for development software are generally paid for an entire year, and for a limited number of devices or users.
Don’t forget that you need users for your app too. If you spend your entire budget on development, you’ll be left in the hands of fate to build an audience. Keep some funds for ASO (App Store Optimization; SEO for mobile apps), CPI (Cost-per-Install) campaigns, social media marketing, content marketing, and SEO for your website. All of these practices will combine into a strategy that’s aimed at drawing users with a high chance to convert into customers.
It’s Time to Build Your App
Now that you have the details sorted out in your head, let’s put pen to paper together. We can’t wait to discuss your innovative idea and brainstorm about the best possible options.
Our experts have already done mobile app development across all industries imaginable, and they’ll take your business to new heights too. You can outsource the entire process to us, or we can provide you vetted veterans to enhance your own in-house team.