Updated: Jun 27
In today's digital landscape, mobile apps have become integral to our daily lives, transforming how we communicate, work, and access information. From social networking and entertainment to productivity and e-commerce, mobile apps have revolutionized how we interact with technology. With the global smartphone penetration reaching unprecedented levels, the importance of mobile apps has skyrocketed.
Understanding the cost of app development is crucial for businesses and individuals looking to capitalize on this booming trend. Developing a successful mobile app requires careful planning, skilled development, and meticulous attention to detail, all of which come at a cost. From the complexity of the app and the chosen platform to design, features, testing, and ongoing maintenance, various factors contribute to the overall expense.
The average cost to build an app is $25,000 to $150,000, but it can exceed $300,000 for highly customized and complex applications. It is important to note that this is a rough estimate as the final cost depends on various factors, including the app's complexity, desired features and functionalities, chosen development approach, and other specific requirements.
In this blog, we will delve into mobile app development pricing in 2023 and answer the common question, "How much does it cost to develop an app?" We will explore the key factors that influence the cost, break down the expenses across different development stages, provide cost estimates for various types of apps, and offer strategies to optimize costs. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the financial aspects of mobile app development, empowering you to make informed decisions and confidently embark on your app development journey.
Let us first explore what are the factors influencing the cost of mobile app development.
Factors Influencing Mobile App Development Cost
Eight factors Influence the Cost of Mobile App Development, and they are listed below:
Now let us delve into each factor in detail.
1. Mobile App Complexity
When considering the cost of app development and how much it costs to make an app, the complexity of the mobile app plays a crucial role in determining its development cost.
Mobile app complexity refers to the level of intricacy involved in designing and implementing the app's features and functionalities. The more complex an app is, the higher the development cost is likely to be. There are three main categories based on complexity: simple apps, medium complex apps, and complex apps.
Simple apps with basic user features, such as a login system, user profile facility, dashboard, and limited administration capabilities, generally fall within the average cost range of $5,000 to $50,000 for development.
Medium complex apps, which include additional features for user engagement and monetization like social media integrations, payment gateways, audio/video streaming, and user privacy, typically have an app development price ranging from $50,000 to $120,000.
The cost of app development can vary significantly for complex apps that incorporate advanced features using technologies such as AR/VR, AI, and machine learning, along with multi-language support, complex data logic, and high-end functionalities. Such apps may require a budget starting from $100,000 and can exceed $300,000 or more, depending on the app's complexity and the advanced High-level turns it entails.
Here's a table summarizing the different levels of app complexity, their average timeline, and the corresponding cost ranges
Level of Complexity
$5,000 - $50,000
Medium Complex app
$50,000 - $120,000
Highly complex app
High level advanced features
$100,000 - $300,000
2. Mobile App Category
When it comes to the cost of developing a mobile app, it varies significantly depending on the app's category. Different categories have distinct characteristics, such as the number of users, functionalities, security requirements, and more. These factors contribute to the varying costs associated with app development.
Simple Informational Apps:
The development cost of a simple app typically ranges from $5,000 to $50,000. A simple app includes essential user features like a login system, user profile functionality, a dashboard, and basic administration capabilities. The cost for app development may vary based on factors such as the complexity of the app's design, the number of platforms supported (Android, iOS), additional integrations with third-party services, and the development team's hourly rates. Proper planning, efficient development practices, and effective budget management can help keep the average development price within this range. Examples of simple apps include to-do list apps, weather apps, recipe apps, fitness tracker apps, and event reminder apps.
E-commerce/ M-commerce Apps:
The cost range for e-commerce mobile apps can vary based on complexity and features. A basic e-commerce app with product listing, shopping cart, checkout, and payment integration typically costs $5,000 to $50,000. A moderate e-commerce app with advanced features like user account management, recommendations, and social media integration ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. For complex e-commerce apps with features like inventory management, multi-language support, and integration with other systems, app development costs between $100,000 to $500,000. Examples of e-commerce apps include Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Shopify, and Etsy.
On-Demand Service Apps:
On-demand service apps act as intermediaries connecting buyers with service providers, allowing users to find, order, and pay for services through the app. Examples of on-demand service apps include Uber (ride-hailing), DoorDash (food delivery), TaskRabbit (handyman services), Instacart (grocery delivery), and Upwork (freelance services). These apps are complex projects with multiple user roles, typically requiring around eight months of development and costing approximately $30,000 - $70,000 per platform.
Social Networking Apps:
The average cost of building a social media app can range from $30,000 to $250,000, depending on the desired features, UI/UX design requirements, and chosen technology stack. The overall complexity of the app will also impact the cost. For instance, a basic social networking app with user profiles, messaging, and content-sharing features would fall on the lower end of the cost range. On the other hand, a more advanced app with additional functionalities like live streaming, AI-driven content recommendation, or community management tools would be more expensive. Examples of social media apps include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.
Gaming applications are interactive platforms available on web, mobile, or desktop devices, enabling users to compete against each other in various games. These apps offer features for game management and social engagement with friends and fellow players. Examples of casual games include popular titles like Solitaire, Candy Crush, and Bejeweled. In contrast, immersive games like Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and Fortnite provide a more immersive and interactive gaming experience. The average cost of developing a gaming app ranges from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the desired features and complexity of the project.
A table summarizing the estimated cost ranges to develop apps based on their categories is given below
Average Cost Range
Simple Informational Apps
$5,000 - $50,000
On-Demand Service Apps
$30,000 - $70,000
$50,000 - $150,000
Social media app
$50,000 - $300,000
$60,000 - $250,000
3. Design and Customization of the App
App design is a crucial factor that influences the cost of app development. A well-designed app is essential to engage users and keep them invested in the app. Regarding app design, there are generally two options: Custom UI and Standard UI. Customized UI involves designing and implementing unique and tailored interfaces, which can be more challenging and have higher costs for app development than when pre-designed standard UI components are used.
Custom UI design:
It involves creating a unique and tailor-made interface that aligns with the app's branding and user experience goals. This approach requires more time, effort, and expertise from designers and developers, increasing the overall app development cost. However, the advantage of a custom UI is that it offers a distinct and personalized look, enhancing the app's overall user experience.
Standard UI design:
It follows established design guidelines and patterns, ensuring familiarity and consistency for users. This option is generally less expensive and thus reduces the app development pricing since it involves working with pre-designed elements and templates that are readily available. While a Standard UI may lack the uniqueness of a custom design, it can still deliver a visually appealing and functional interface.
The choice between Custom and Standard UI depends on various factors, such as the app's target audience, branding requirements, and budget constraints.
Apart from overall app design, other important components include wireframing and animation. Wireframing is used to create user experience features and maps, employing tools like MARVEL, Balsamiq, and Photoshop. On the other hand, the animation is widely used in gaming and social media apps to enhance user interaction and make the application more visually appealing and intuitive.
Refer to the table with the mobile application development cost breakdown based on app design.
Average Development Cost (Approx)
App design research
Market research, Competitor analysis, Market trend analysis, Selecting ideal solutions based on niche and available resources
$100 - $350
Rough sketches, Low fidelity wireframes, High fidelity wireframes
$2,000 - $8,000
UI design (visuals)
Mood boards, UI mockup samples, Final UI mockups
$10,000 - $40,000
Creating brand identity, Logos, icons, and social media
$5,000 - $20,000
Animations and illustrations
Visualizing user and on-screen content, Direct manipulation, User action visualization based on the level of animations
$1,000 - $20,000
Considering the importance of app design in user experience and engagement, investing in well-crafted design elements can greatly impact the overall success and cost of your mobile app development project.
4. App Features and Functionality
The average cost to build an app depends on the features and functionalities incorporated into the application. Starting with a basic set of features in the app's initial version is recommended to provide a great customer experience while keeping costs manageable. Developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with core features helps save time and money and allows for valuable user feedback. As we delve into more complex features, the cost of app development and the time required may increase.
The average app development cost and time for basic features range from $500 to $5,000 and 25 to 180 hours, respectively. For advanced features like payments, maps, and calls, the cost ranges from $2,500 to $15,000 and the development time can be between 60 and 400 hours.
Please note that these time and cost estimates are approximate and can vary depending on various factors such as app complexity, development team expertise, and project requirements.
5. App Maintenance and Updates
Even the best mobile apps have bugs. Various factors, such as changes to the underlying code or platform or user input errors, can cause these bugs. It is important to fix bugs immediately to avoid user frustration and negative reviews.
Mobile app design trends change frequently. You may need to make design changes regularly to keep your app looking fresh and appealing. It could involve updating the color scheme, adding new features, or changing the overall layout.
Mobile apps require ongoing maintenance to ensure running smoothly and securely. It includes updating the app's code, fixing bugs, and resolving security vulnerabilities.
The cost of post-development maintenance can vary depending on the complexity of the app and the frequency of updates. However, budgeting at least 20% of the initial app development cost for maintenance is generally recommended.
6. Code Reuse
Code reuse is a factor that can significantly reduce the cost of mobile app development. When businesses leverage existing app code and modify branding elements, it can lead to substantial cost savings.
However, businesses need to exercise caution and selectively reuse code. Reusing only the common elements, such as contact us and login features, is recommended while developing the rest of the app from scratch. This approach ensures the maintenance of a distinct brand identity.
By reusing existing code, businesses can expect a reduction in cost for app development of approximately 20-30% compared to building an app entirely from scratch.
Opting for code reuse offers a cost-effective solution for app development while still allowing customization and innovation. It streamlines the development process and enables businesses to achieve their desired functionality within a budget-friendly framework.
7. Size and Location of App Development Team
The size and location of the app development team are significant factors that can influence the cost of app development.
The size of the team directly affects the speed, complexity, and efficiency of the development process. Larger teams can handle multiple tasks simultaneously, leading to faster app development but potentially higher costs.
For a simple app, the cost of app development may range from $20,000 to $50,000, while a medium app can cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Complex apps can exceed $100,000. These estimates include the cost of developers, UI/UX designers, project managers, QA specialists, business analysts, DevOps, and solution architects. The development time can range from 2 to 15 months, depending on the app's complexity.
The location of app developers also plays a significant role in determining app development costs. The average cost to build an app is lower in countries like India and Ukraine, where the hourly rates range from $20 to $100. In contrast, countries like the United States and Australia have higher hourly rates, ranging from $80 to $200. Russia falls in the middle range, with hourly rates ranging from $60 to $150. Choosing the right location for app development can help businesses optimize costs while ensuring high-quality development.
8. Mobile App Platform
Choosing the right platform is crucial when starting the mobile app development process. The popular app development platform options include:
Native app platform (Android & iOS)
Developing separate apps for Android and iOS using languages like Swift, Objective-C, Java, or Kotlin.
Web app platform
The app development cost is less than native apps, and apps like Progressive Web Apps are developed using web technologies. The app development price typically ranges from $15,000 to $50,000.
Developing apps for both iOS and Android simultaneously using frameworks like Flutter or React Native. Benefits include code reuse and reduced development effort.
Hybrid app platform
Hybrid apps combine native and web app elements, running within a web view component but installed like a native app.
The right platform depends on the target audience, budget, and development requirements.
See the table below for the summarized version of the cost of different mobile app platforms.
Type of App
$10,000 - $150,000
$15,000 - $50,000
$25,000 - $60,000
Native apps (Android & iOS)
$50,000 - $100,000
In the next section, let us discover what are the hidden factors that affect the mobile app development cost.
Hidden Factors Affecting Mobile App Development Cost
1. Quality Assurance
One of the hidden costs in mobile app development is quality assurance. Depending on the size and complexity of your app, you may need to hire a quality assurance agent or a project manager. These professionals ensure that the app meets the desired quality standards, identify and fix bugs, and test the app across various devices and platforms. Investing in quality assurance upfront can help reduce future and overall costs for app development and ensure a smooth user experience.
2. Infrastructure Costs
Infrastructure costs are another factor that can affect the mobile app development price. These costs include data storage, delivery, and app hosting expenses. For example, you may need to invest in servers, cloud storage solutions, development tools, and libraries. Your app's complexity and the data processing scale will impact these infrastructure costs.
3. IT Support Costs
You will require IT support services and continuous technical support to maintain a high-quality app. It includes tasks like handling iOS and Android updates, fixing bugs, and maintaining API. Over time, the support costs may increase as new features are added or as the app evolves. Considering ongoing IT support costs when budgeting for your app development project is important.
4. App Publishing Costs
Publishing an app on app stores also incurs costs. While the fees are insignificant, they should be considered in your overall budget. For example, submitting an Android app to the Google Play Store requires a one-time fee of $25. On the other hand, Apple charges $99 per year for a developer account. If you plan to distribute your app exclusively within your organization, joining the Apple Developer Enterprise Program costs $299 annually. It is important to factor in these app publishing costs when estimating the total app development cost.
5. App Security
App security is a crucial factor in mobile app development. Building trust with users and protecting their sensitive information requires implementing robust security measures. This includes incorporating security features during development, conducting thorough testing and security checks, and keeping up with industry best practices. Failing to prioritize app security can lead to higher costs in the long run, including financial losses and damage to your reputation.
By considering these hidden factors that affect mobile app development costs, you can better manage your budget, reduce risks, and ensure the successful delivery of your app.
Before moving any further, it is important to understand the mobile app development process. Let us discover the same in the following section.
Mobile App Development Process
1. Research the Target Market
Conduct thorough research on your target market to understand market dynamics, consumer behavior, and competitor analysis. Dive into user reviews of top apps in the market to gain insights and identify areas for improvement. This research will help you develop a better product that resonates with your target audience.
2. Choose the Right Platform
Consider your budget and target audience when selecting the platform for your app. Developing for both Android and iOS can be costly, so if budget constraints exist, you can prioritize one platform initially and expand to the other later. Analyze your target market's preferences and choose the platform that aligns with their usage patterns.
3. Hire an App Development Company
Partner with a reputable app development company with a track record of delivering high-quality apps. A professional development team will ensure that your app incorporates the latest features and meets your deadlines. They bring expertise in app development, UI/UX design, project management, and market insights, providing valuable suggestions throughout development.
4. Build Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Consider developing an MVP to validate your app idea without extensive costs for app development. Work with your app development company to identify your app's essential features and unique selling points (USPs). Focusing on core functionality lets you quickly launch a functional app and gather user feedback for future enhancements.
5. Test Your App
Thoroughly test your app to ensure its performance, user experience, and content quality. Testing helps identify and address bugs, reducing development time and app development pricing. You can enhance your reputation and user satisfaction by delivering a high-quality app.
6. Submit App to Stores
Once testing is complete, submit your app to the relevant app stores, such as Google Play Store or Apple's App Store. Adhere to the guidelines and requirements set by the respective platforms. Align your app's monetization strategy with the store's policies.
7. Launch and Track Performance
After launching your app, use in-app analytics tools to track its performance. Monitor user engagement, gather user feedback, and introduce updates based on user preferences and needs. Improving your app based on real-time data will enhance user satisfaction and drive success.
Also, Read: How To Create Mobiel App From Scratch
Let us now consider the ways to reduce the mobile app development cost in the next section.
Tips to Reduce Mobile App Development Costs
1. Prioritize Features Early On
It is essential to prioritize the app's features effectively to optimize mobile app development costs, identify the core functionalities that drive business value, and develop them first. This approach allows you to release a minimum viable product (MVP) quickly and gather user feedback. Non-essential or nice-to-have features can be implemented in later stages of development, saving time and resources.
2. Involve Quality Assurance Early On
Addressing bugs and errors early in the development process can help save significant costs for app development. By involving quality assurance (QA) professionals from the beginning, you can identify and rectify critical issues before they become more complex and expensive. Early QA involvement ensures a smoother development process and reduces the likelihood of rework.
3. Plan for the Future
Consider the long-term goals and potential changes in your app's requirements. Anticipate the need for updates and modifications based on user feedback and market trends. By planning for the future, you can develop a flexible and scalable app architecture that can accommodate changes without requiring substantial redevelopment. This approach avoids costly redesigns or rewrites in the later stages of the project.
4. In-House or Outsourcing
Choosing between in-house development and outsourcing is a critical decision affecting the app development cost and project management. In-house development allows for greater control and immediate communication within your team but requires hiring and maintaining a dedicated development team. Outsourcing can provide access to specialized skills, reduce office expenses, and offer flexibility in scaling resources. Assess the specific needs of your project and consider the cost-effectiveness and expertise offered by each option.
5. Consider Cross-Platform Development
Creating separate native apps for each platform (Android and iOS) can significantly increase the average cost of building an app. Instead, consider cross-platform development frameworks or technologies that allow you to build a single app that works on multiple platforms. Cross-platform app development can save time and resources by leveraging shared codebases and development efforts. Popular cross-platform development frameworks include Flutter, Unity 3D, and React Native.
By following these tips and adopting cost-saving strategies, businesses can effectively manage mobile app development pricing while delivering high-quality applications that meet their users' needs.
After knowing about the cost estimation for development of a Mobile Application, let us now see some examples of popular global mobile apps and the approximate cost for their development.
Development Cost of Popular Global Apps
Here are some examples of popular global apps that have revolutionized the customer experience and their respective development costs:
With over 300 million daily active users, Snapchat has significantly impacted the realm of social media apps. This messaging app introduced augmented reality through filters and interactive lenses. Snapchat enables users to share multimedia messages that disappear within seconds. The average cost to build an app similar to Snapchat can range from $45,000 to $100,000 for one platform and up to $200,000 for both platforms.
Netflix, the leading media streaming platform, allows users to stream shows and movies conveniently. The average cost to build an app similar to Netflix ranges from $25,000 to $200,000.
Uber, a widely used ride-sharing app, connects drivers with riders worldwide. The app allows customers to request rides instantly or schedule them for later. On average, the development cost for an app like Uber ranges between $30,000 and $100,000.
WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that facilitates text exchanges, instant video/audio calls, photo and video sharing, and more. The average cost of developing a messaging app like WhatsApp is $30,000 to $70,000.
Coursera, an e-learning app, has gained immense popularity among students and educators due to its wide range of distance learning programs, including skill development courses and university degrees. The cost for a Coursera-like mobile app development typically ranges from $60,000 to $120,000.
TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, has transformed the entertainment landscape. It allows users to lip-sync dialogues and recreate scenes from movies and music videos. The app offers various filters and effects to enhance videos and images. The average cost to build an app like TikTok ranges from $60,000 to $100,000 for one platform and up to $150,000 for hybrid development.
These examples illustrate the diversity of app categories and the corresponding app development prices. Considering these factors when planning and budgeting for app development is essential.
In conclusion, the cost of mobile app development can vary significantly, ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 and even exceeding $300,000 for complex, customized apps. However, it's important to note that these figures are approximate and depend on app complexity, features, and development approach. Thorough research and careful consideration of all aspects are crucial when finalizing a budget for app development.
Finding a balance between cost, quality, and functionality is essential for successful app development. While minimizing costs may seem tempting, compromising quality or essential features can negatively impact the app's performance and user experience. Prioritizing a robust and user-friendly app should take precedence, even if it means adjusting the budget accordingly.
In the ever-evolving landscape of mobile app development in 2023, staying informed about industry trends and market demands is crucial. By considering the key factors and cost considerations discussed, app owners can navigate the development process effectively and increase the chances of a successful and cost-efficient outcome.