Mobile App Development Cost
Through our years of expertise and experience from developing a multitude of mobile apps, we have prepared a very special guide for you. This guide will take you through different components and phases of developing a mobile app, and the cost associated with each.
How Much Does Mobile App Development Costs?
Before we get into the details, you would want to evaluate what exactly do you need. There are different ways to develop mobile apps, many different ways to be precise. With how far we have come with PWAs, you might want to reconsider if you actually need a mobile app. Other options for mobile app development are Hybrid, Native, Flutter, and React Native, you will find a comprehensive description of each of them below.
A mobile app development would typically cost you somewhere between $2000-$1million+, now that depends on a lot of factors, and that’s exactly why we are here today. As we said, the cost varies on a lot of factors, but the main reason for going over $1+ million in development cost is how complex the project is, it directly increases the cost to develop and maintain every single component. Another factor that highly affects the cost is, is from where you hire developers to work for your app.
Developers aren’t spread evenly all around the world, and from what we have seen, the lowest per hour cost can be found in Asia, compared to being highest in North America. The average development cost starts at as low as $15 per hour and moves up to $80, in India. In the USA, the average cost starts at $70 per hour and moves up to $350 per hour.
So, now that you know the basic idea behind calculating total development cost, let’s dig into the components and factors that add up, or affects the development cost of a mobile app.
1. Research and Development
Being technically sound is a great head start for app development, as you would know exactly how far an app can go. We are not telling you that it is absolute, to measure the hours for developing and implementing modules, but it would be great if you have an idea about the bifurcated components of your mobile app. Not only this would help you have a deep understanding of a mobile app, but it would also greatly benefit you in deciding the business strategy.
As an example, most people have no idea they can roll out features in phases, in a period of months to years, to keep the users hooked to their app in the long run. If you know this particular thing, you can save a lot of costs you would be putting in maintenance, as adding new features, and integrating them, in a complex app, is a seriously hefty (and costly) affair. Refer to the point about maintenance and add-ons below, for a better understanding of this particular example.
Here’s a brief list of things you need to R&D about, to save significant mobile app development costs. This list is just for reference, don’t feel that it’s not going to work if you can’t figure out a point or two. Also, some projects might become way too complex to understand on your own, and you might have to consider taking help from your mobile app development company or developers.
The list below is taken from technical documentation of an app we created.
Everything you want in your application, written in one place. Think of it as a complete summary of your app. When preparing it, think of the end product first, and leave the process and flow apart.
The most basic app has one single mode, the Admin mode. According to your requirements, you can get as many modes as you want, and as many levels, as you want.
Think of modules as an independent part of your app, each of them performs a specific function. Every independent working modules need to be integrated at the end to run your mobile app.
Use any app and count the number of the screen it could take you to, the title of it is pretty self-explanatory. You need to figure out the screens you would be showing to your users, it can range from 1 to hundreds, depending on your app’s complexity.
It goes hand in hand with screen flows, it is used to determine which screens and functionalities could be accessed by each module, and how, and which, modules could be called from each screen.
There are different ways to develop a mobile app, mainly categorized in Native, Hybrid, and PWAs. This factor will highly differentiate the cost part, depending on which technology you choose. You will find more about them in the ‘App development technology’ point below.
Mostly developers, designers, project managers, and quality analysts work in a mobile app development project. If you get all the above points right, you will have a fair idea about the scope of your project, and the workforce required to complete it.
In the example above, we told you that it would be best if you pre-decided if you want to roll out versions of apps with added functionalities. This would make sure you don’t end up paying too much in maintenance, apart from that, focus on versioning and routine maintenance, and make sure you plan ahead for them.
2. Type of App
The cost of making, running, and operating apps of different complexities are completely different. So, we saw fit to give it a category of its own, just to give people some idea about the complexity of the app they are planning for. We could have categorized it into different kinds of apps based on industries, but we would rather tell you the time required based on the complexity of the app.
For a simpler understanding let’s simply categorize apps according to 3 complexities.
Low complexity apps refer to those which are typically low, in the number of screens, types of users, use of sensors, and finally do not need to, or doesn’t connect to internet services (no back end).
That main point here is not connecting to the internet, although some games are an exception to this, it is mostly the case for other categories. Low complexity mobile apps usually take around 100-300 hours to develop.
Sparring use of in-built sensors, a greater number of in-app pages, and at least 2 different types of users, on top of some more things, are together considered when calling an app medium complex to develop.
Also, most medium complexity mobile apps have a back end, continuously fetching and feeding data to the servers. These apps mostly take around 200-700+ hours to develop, give or take a 100 in some cases, as technically, medium complex apps can sometimes take as long as a high complexity app to develop.
These apps run the world and account for most of the mobile app advancements we have seen in the past few years. The greatest examples would be apps of Uber, Google Maps, Apple Music, just to name a few.
Apart from hundreds of millions of users using them, what makes developing, versioning, maintenance, designing, and other factors much complicated is the need to create a perfect amalgamation of all those things, for retaining the users against the competition.
The design language of such apps also needs to be top-notch, and consistent, along with the code being highly coherent across the app. Add on top of that, privacy policies, legal, marketing, and making the app complaint across all such domains.
The cost of these not only increases for the fact that they take at least 600 hours to develop, but it also increases on the fact that you can’t rely on a single developer, but would rather rely on a top mobile app development company to make them for you.
3. Application Development Technology
The two most important platforms these days, especially in the mobile apps segment, are Android and iOS. Almost everyone these days have a mobile, in numbers, it’s estimated to be around 7 billion people, according to a forecast report by
All these people have only 3 options, visit a website on the mobile browser, download a PWA, or download an app from the Playstore or Appstore.
While PWAs are different altogether, they would still be highly beneficial if you choose the Hybrid or React Native mobile app development for the native apps. We aren’t telling you to get both, it is completely your choice, if you want to make a presence on the stores, you have to get native apps for both Android and iOS, if PWAs would be enough, you will need to find a way to market your app on the mobile SERPs.
Here’s a brief on development options to capture the mobile segment, along with an estimated cost associated with them.
If you are even considering this option, we believe you already have your business established on the desktop web. If you are planning to get a new desktop website, and just looking for presence over the mobile SERPs, this might just be the perfect option for you. It is mostly a norm these days, every reputed web development company would make sure they create a responsive website for you.
However, if your website is already built, and isn’t responsive, an estimate of about 50-70% of the time would be consumed to make it responsive, test it on various devices, and to integrate the front end with the back end. But all this cost would obviously benefit you on the website too, and as we said above, this option is best suited for those who already have their businesses established on the desktop web.
Progressive Web Apps
Some extra-large benefits, while losing out on some essentials, would be a fair description of what progressive web apps are. They are built to run offline, must be fast loading (especially for supporting mobile platforms), and must be responsive. One thing to be noted is, PWAs won’t support any browsers that don’t support HTML5, but almost every browser supports HTML5 now so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The cost of PWAs would be a bit more than responsive websites, the idea is to fulfill all of Google’s criteria to be recognized as a PWA. The most important aspect where PWAs lag is that there is no central repository where they could be found, and no authority judging it, which means anyone could fetch any data they want using PWAs, it also means no one would be able to search your web app at one single place.
Security is one of the main reasons why Apple has granted limited access capabilities to PWAs, but with time we hope things will get more streamlined and all PWAs would have to get certified from an authority. Also, PWAs are the only truly cross-platform package, with a small downside that it requires a browser to run. We assume PWAs would be gaining much more popularity, in their due time.
In the era before React Native and Flutter became popular, Hybrid was the hottest mobile application development technology out there. Hybrid apps are a combination of Native and Web apps and use the device’s native browser engine to render information in an actual native app.
They might seem the best of both worlds, combining of we may say PWAs, and Native apps, you might assume it couldn’t get better. For some niches, Hybrid app development is certainly the best choice, but for those in which performance and optimization are a concern, they either choose Native or Cross-platform app development.
Most sensors are usable in the case of Hybrid apps, and it omits the central repository problem as they are direct to be downloaded from the Appstore and Playstore. Their development cost varies on the fact if you already have a website, and the cost to hire specialist Hybrid app developers to wrap it into a native container.
Native apps as we know them, are separately developed especially for the environment or operating system they are going to be installed in. Before we move ahead, Android app development and iOS app development are poles apart, the prior is worked upon in Java, Kotlin, while the latter is worked upon in C#, Swift. Why it should matter to you is the fact that their cost also differs, and so does the development time.
The main factor that puts their development costs much higher than all the other options in this list, is that you will need at least one expert Android developer and an expert iOS, except the rest of the team if you are planning to develop native apps for both platforms. Two different languages and technologies, for two different apps, isn’t very feasible for startups, but if your niche demands high-performance apps, it’s the only way to get them.
React Native and Flutter based apps are referred to cross-platform apps here, as they are far ahead of Hybrid apps, and quite close to Native apps, all while being able to be used on multiple platforms. We believe cross-platform apps hold real potential and are truly as close as it gets to Native apps, here’s our take on why React Native should be chosen for app development in 2020.
The cost of React Native app development is significantly lower than Native apps, and a tad bit higher than Hybrid apps. This is for the fact that you wouldn’t need to work on two different technologies, as cross-platform apps are capable of running natively on both iOS and Android smartphones. Another edge they have over every other point in the list is a significantly low development time, which also means lower cost to develop an app.
4. Emerging Technologies
Mobile apps are all the more capable in the past few years, and implementing emerging technologies, could be called as one of the top reasons for that. The simplest examples would be Pokémon Go, IKEA Place, Blockchain-based wallets and games, and tech giants implementing in-app machine learning algorithms and AI to eventually enhance the UX.
The top emerging technologies finding their way into mobile apps are:
In some niches, using AR’s capabilities is doing wonders. Be it games, Snapchat, home planning, or any other application that could use and fit some augmented objects in the real world, has been revolutionized by augmented reality tech. To implement and unleash AR’s capabilities, two things are absolutely necessary, capable hardware, and 3-D designs.
Giving estimates for the increase in price might get a bit tough here, as the apps which use AR tech are mostly AR focused (Snapchat being an exception). Also, most social apps are finding a specific use for AI, and next comes the utility segment. But if your app can find a good use for it, we suggest you go ahead and invest in it, as the user experience improvement through AR remains unmatched.
Even though it might not be fully developed right now, the giants are already working hard at implementing AI in mobile apps. Also, the assistants powered by AI, namely Siri and Google Assistant, can be configured to browse or prompt the apps to perform certain functions.
In case you plan to implement AI in any sort in your mobile app, you will need to find and hire the best Python developers out there, along with heavily investing in research and development. The cost would be significantly higher than a generic Mobile app but could promise a good RoI in the long run.
Chatbots aren’t just a feel-good feature these days, they are an absolute necessity. Whether you are planning to get one for support, or simply greet, is completely up to your business’s requirements. They start at around $50 per month and go up to $1000+ per month for a fair enough AI enabled Chatbot.
If your business is highly customer satisfaction focused, or if you are providing some kind of service (like an on-demand app), we recommend you get a custom chatbot developed from a reputed chatbot development company. We might warn you, integrating chatbots into mobile apps might be easy, but it’s their development which increases the cost significantly.
Blockchain is one of the newest technologies to join the list, it has been around only for a few years now. Most of the people have limited blockchain implementation in mobile apps to wallets, but some are now starting to see its possibility in the gaming niche. If you are selling anything virtual, be it collectibles or just some fancy items, you can essentially put blockchain to use in your mobile app.
The pricing would increase according to the salary or the per hour cost of the blockchain developer you hire, as implementing blockchain is a completely different aspect when using it in a mobile app. With blockchain gaining popularity, and more and more C++ and Python developers switching to it, you can easily hire top Blockchain developers with minimal effort.
We are moving so fast towards globalization, but yet so slow when it comes to global equality. Not that it’s a bad thing, and the idea is honestly farfetched for now. So, due to conditions of every country being highly variable, it is obvious that the price to hire developers or mobile development companies would be highly variable too. The list is divided into 3, based on the cost to get an app developed, as the demographics and economy of the countries in these continents are highly variable.
Also, note that we are talking only about the most popular countries, and not about the average app development pricing for every country.
The most prominent players in this continent are China and India, both of these combined, happen to house about 38% of the world’s total population. So obviously, with that kind of competition, prices tend to be rock bottom, and new developers are opting app development each year, adding up to the total work force.
The average development cost is rather lowest in the list, starting at about $15 per hour, and if you would want the best of the best, the highest average price would be around $80 per hour.
India tops the competition over China in two aspects, China is mostly into manufacturing, so most of the Chinese people are focused on that. And, most of the people in China speak Mandarin Chinese, with a fairly low number of English speakers, China might be a second choice when considering how prevalent English is, in India.
USA and Canada top the chart as the top choices for mobile and web app development in the North American region. Although, they both also top the average cost of web and mobile app development around the world, thanks to their strong global economic hold. Housing the world’s top universities and top talents graduating from them each year, the average quality of the developers is significantly higher, compared to the rest of the world.
The lowest average software development cost is around $60 per hour and moves up to a staggering $350 per hour.
Both Canada and the USA have a stronghold in the North American region, but the USA has more universities, more developers, and both these factors contribute to the USA having overall better mobile app development companies. But if your business is based in Canada, we suggest you rather hire in-house developers than outsourcing to the USA, and if you are planning to outsource, rather outsource to Asia for a significant difference in cost to develop your mobile app.
Rest of the world
Europe, Australia, Russia, and South America are all a part of this list. The reason behind this is how app development in these regions is fairly averagely priced compared to Asia and North America. The average mobile app development prices are slightly higher in Russia and South America, compared to Asia. However, the app development prices are considerably higher compared to all of them in Australia and Europe, but still lower than the average cost prevalent in North America.
Expect the average app development cost to be in a bracket of $25 to $90 per hour, if you are planning to outsource to any of the countries mentioned above.
Also, the major part of Europe’s app development is done in the UK, which could be a fairly decent choice if you want the quality of services compared to that of the USA. But as we told you above, the world is trying it’s best to globalize, the same can be seen in Asia, which means the quality of services could in there could be now compared to that of the USA and the UK.
6. Maintenance and Add-ons
Both of them are integral parts of a mobile app, because whenever we develop a mobile app, it is supposed to be up and running, and constantly changing, in due time. Even if the client doesn’t know about maintenance and Add-ons, most client-centric mobile app development companies focus on educating them on these particular aspects, before moving ahead with the project.
Every business needs a master plan, a plan along with subsequent plans, to implement, after achieving or reaching pre-defined phases. Why are we telling you this? Because likewise, mobile apps should be planned ahead of time to save hefty maintenance costs in the long run. The greatest advantage in opting for add-ons is an early market entry while improving user retention rate for months after the initial release.
Not every generic app development company has an option like this, but some companies’ like ours, makes planning ahead a top priority. The cost of all this? Definitely much lower than repeating the SDLC for creating a new version every time you plan to add new features to your app. Versioning is a necessity if you want to opt-in it, and this isn’t the regular versioning we talk about in maintenance.
No matter how much you test your app, or how many times you do it, a mobile app is always prone to errors and crashes. Be in a change of device, failure of an API, or failure of a particular component when a command is run, they are all supposed to be treated immediately. The best way to not be left stranded in a situation like this is to opt for a maintenance package.
All top mobile app development companies would give you at least 3 months of free maintenance, depending on the scale of your project. But that’s never enough, assuming that even if you don’t have phases ready, you will at least need to upgrade with changes in technology and Android and iOS versions, and for that, you will need maintenance on a regular basis.
For a rough idea, think of the cost being about 35-45% of the average per hour cost of developing the project, note that this means you will have dedicated maintenance team continuously checking every aspect of your project, on the daily. This is usually opted by corporations with large scale projects and complicated mobile apps but is slowly gaining popularity for use in the medium complexity apps too.
All the points above hold a particular weightage, and we assume that after going through all of them, you have an idea about the approximate cost to get a mobile app developed for your business, based on your priorities. Things like app design cost haven’t been mentioned explicitly, but the average cost we mentioned according to a location already includes that.
If you would take our recommendation, focus the most on the R&D part, and then decide on the phases, and then on the location you want your app to be developed from.
Here are three of the best options to choose from:
- As we said above, India is a great choice for quality app development in the lowest possible budget, you would get comparable quality to the USA if you go for the top Indian app development firms. So, considering the low price and top quality, outsourcing your mobile app development to India would be best in case of medium to high complexity mobile application.
- If you are aiming for quality of service, and are ready to pay about two times what you would pay in India, the UK is the second-best option. While app development in the UK would be priced considerably high from and India and moderately low from the USA, it might be a good option for people aiming to get small to medium-sized apps developed, as they wouldn’t require too much investment in the maintenance part.
- If you are planning to apply rocket science in your mobile app, or only want the best of the best, we recommend you get your app developed from the USA. But the budget you would require to go down that path would be huge, and you could invest that money in areas like marketing. We recommend the only case in which you should get your app developed in the USA, is if you are based in the USA, and absolutely certain to not outsource or hire remote workers.
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