If you’re reading this text, it means that you probably have an idea to create an app. You may even have some special features in mind and think of app design details. However, when it comes to the implementation of intentions into particular actions, the logical question always appears - how much does it cost to create an app?
The thing is, that mobile applications development is a comprehensive process; it’s affected by many factors that make each project unique. It’s almost impossible to provide precise cost estimates at once, so we usually answer “It depends”.
In this article, we shared our experience to help you consider as many aspects as possible to calculate your app development cost. Moreover, we added bonus tips that can optimize your app development budget and help you get more profit.
Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the topic!
To cut the long story short, costs to develop an app starts from $1 600 to $1.000 000+. Wow! Let’s figure out the reason for such cost differences step by step.
You may be surprised (or not) to find out that app development costs vary significantly depending on the region where your tech team is located. In some regions, the hourly rates of developers are quite high, in others - suspiciously low. However, keep in mind that high rates don’t guarantee excellent quality and vice versa. For example, lower rates can be a result of a simplified taxation system; higher rates can be explained by higher economic level and cost of living, etc.
Let’s take a closer look at hourly rates of mobile app developers* in different region
|Region||Hourly rate||The best software development destination in the region|
|Eastern Europe||≈ $10-$70||Ukraine, Poland, Hungary|
|Western Europe||≈ $30-$100||United Kingdom, Germany|
|North America||≈ $40-$200||USA|
|Latin America||≈ $20-$150||Brazil, Argentina, Mexico|
|Asia||≈ $5-$45||India, China|
|Africa||≈ $15||South Africa|
*for Android and iOS app development these rates are almost identical **take into account that these rates are median - they can differ based on app developers' level of expertise (junior, middle, senior)
As you can see in the table above, the highest mobile app development rates are in North America, and the lowest one - in the Asian region (although the price differential here is quite large - mobile development in India can be very cheap). Still, these numbers can’t provide you with the full picture of app development costs without an understanding of the complexity of the app you want to develop. In general, all apps can be divided into:
|Level of app complexity||Time to deliver||Description||Example|
|Simple||2-6 months (320h - 960h)||MVP with basic features, simple UI/UX design, suitable for 1 platform||Calculator app|
|Medium||6-10 months (960h - 1600h)||more comprehensive feature set (e.g. API integration), general design is still basic but can include custom UI elements/animations, suitable for 1-2 platforms||McDonald’s Loyalty App|
|Complex||more than 10 months (1600h+)||custom UI/UX design, fully custom features, suitable for 2 platforms||large enterprise systems or large social networks like Instagram|
*we took an average amount of work hours per month - 160h
Now we can make a rough calculation* of how much will it cost to develop apps of different complexity in different regions:
|Region||Simple app development cost||Medium-complexity app development cost||Complex app development cost|
|Eastern Europe||$8000- $48 000||$24 000 - $80 000||starting from $40 000 - $80 000|
|Western Europe||$9600 - $38 400||$28 800 - $64 000||starting from $48 000 - $64 000|
|North America||$16 000 - $67 200||$48 000 - $112 000||starting from $80 000 - $112 000|
|Latin America||$5 760 - $48 000||$17 280 - $80 000||starting from $28 800 - $80 000|
|Asia||$1 600 - $48 000||$4 800 - $80 000||starting from $8 000 - $80 000|
|Australia||$16 640 - $49 920||$49 920 - $83 200||starting from $83 200|
|Africa||$6 400 - $19 200||$19 200 - $32 000||starting from $32 000|
*based on rates and timelines from the tables above
Now to bring these calculations even closer to reality, we should consider not just tech team location and app complexity but other important factors as well.
If you want to clearly understand what you’re paying for and smartly spend your project budget, it’s of crucial importance to figure out the key factors that compose the cost of app development. Here’s our short list of factors based on which we provide estimates for app development.
We’ve already described how rates and app complexity can affect the cost for app development, so let’s move on to the next factors.
If you can’t develop a mobile app on your own and don’t have someone to help you with this, it’s obvious that you need to hire an expert or several experts. What’s better: to assemble an in-house team or hire an outsourcing tech team? Once again, everything depends on your needs and requirements. However, keep in mind that the only benefit you can get from an in-house team (compared to a remote one) is a physical presence, and full control of the processes (or illusion of it). Still, even this argument is not relevant enough because of the current circumstances - the pandemic, the tendency to work from home, etc.
At the same time, maintenance of the in-house team can be too expensive because of the recruiting costs, the necessity to pay office rent, buy all the necessary equipment, and so on. From this point, it’s much simpler and cost-effective to outsource your mobile app development. Just imagine - you can pick any vendor with any expertise level and price-quality ratio without being limited by location!
Mobile app developer - that’s who comes first to our mind when it comes to app development. However, he’s responsible only for tasks related to programming. You also need a UI/UX designer to take care of the mobile app design, and a QA engineer to test your app thoroughly and ensure its smooth running. Moreover, you need someone to manage and control your tech team - that’s exactly what the project manager does. Also, if your app is complex enough, it’s of crucial importance to investigate your market, target audience/competitors, and assess all the risks and profits from the app development. A business analyst can help with these tasks perfectly.
So you should plan your project budget keeping in mind not just app developer costs but payments related to other tech experts. Here’s a classic team structure needed to develop an average mobile app:
If you need detailed info on hourly rates of different tech experts in various regions, check out the latest Accelerance research!
Designs for mobile apps with standard elements and a small number of screens will cost you much cheaper. For some apps, this may be enough. However, if you want to make your app eye-catchy and easy to perceive, you need to think of a special visual approach. The custom design will result in additional costs; however, you'll win more with it. Ability to attract more users and increase their loyalty, outpace your competitors, and build strong brand awareness - these are just a few of the potential benefits you can get with custom UI UX design.
Do you need to develop an Android or iOS app? Or maybe your app should be suitable for both platforms? Keep in mind that the development of separate native apps will cost you much more than the development of a hybrid app with cross-platform functionality (with a single code, you can run your app on different operating systems). It’s already proven that a cross-platform approach can save you from 10% to 30% of your budget. Moreover, the development of a cross-platform mobile app can significantly shorten the time needed for app creation.
Mobile apps have a lot to do with big data amounts and their real-time exchange, so your users' security should be a key priority. To minimize the appearance of any vulnerability and protect your app from hacker attacks, you should ensure that your app has strong security features (for example, different types of authentication) and is based on reliable hosting. This can take additional costs; however, it will keep you away from serious problems.
Besides the basic expenditures, you may also face so-called “hidden costs” that many entrepreneurs/startupers don’t take into consideration (and that’s a huge mistake). We strongly recommend including these expenses in your budget as well:
We decided to pay special attention to this question because it contains several hidden factors at once.01
Of course, both App Store and Play Market have the same goal - to provide their users with high-quality useful apps. However, these platforms have some peculiarities that make them different, in the terms of fees and revenue as well.
|App Store||Play Market|
|Yearly developer fee - $99||One-time fee - $25|
|App Store users are more likely to get paid versions / fully paid apps||Android customers more often download free apps only|
|App developers get around 70% of profit from in-app purchases||It’s more difficult for Android developers to monetize their app|
To release your app to the app store it’s not enough to pay an app market fee. You should also take into consideration the costs that may be needed to present your app to the market in the best possible way! Include in your app budget the costs for:
It’s a very common practice to break down design mobile apps and the app development costs based on project development stages. Let’s imagine that you hire a team that provides full-cycle development services (for example, DreamX :) ) In this case, your project will consist of the following phases:01. Discovery
(Deep analysis of your business problems and needs, investigation of your target audience, competitors, market conditions and trends, assessment of potential risks, estimation of the needed resources to deliver your app (number and qualification of experts, time, budget, etc.)02. Roadmap and tactical planning
(Usually with a breakdown into several milestones)03. Prototyping of User Experience design
(The UX stage of the process involves very close collaboration between you and our team to create the framework for the product. Here our UX team create a user-friendly product for potential customers)04. User Interface design
(At the UI stage, our team creates 101% uniqueness of your product. Our experienced designers will create for you an incredible style of the product, with a motion design, branding and much more in smallest details)05. Clickable products
(This is the final testing of the product before it goes to development. Our team will carefully check every detail of the product with you in the process to confirm all the results)06. Development stage
(This is the main stage of programming where we create components that will later interact with users. We use coding, source control, task automation, code review, testing and more for a proper end result)07. Quality Assurance
(At this stage, we test the project in many different ways to maintain the desired level of quality. We provide a complete check of the project for the absence of errors and weaknesses in the code)08. App release
(Market App to AppStore and GooglePlay)09. App maintenance
(We provide all necessary support even after the completion of work on the project)
Keep in mind that these phases are not equal in the terms of duration, efforts and the number of involved tech experts. As our practice shows, to cover all these phases project budget is usually divided like this:
Ok, how does this abstract scheme work for real-life applications? Our DreamX team is excited to share the case!
DreamX team has profound expertise in mobile app development for different industries. Recently we have developed a fitness app. Many details are under NDA (as well as the name of the project), however, can share the general project workflow and approximate estimates. Based on this, you can see what results you can get for a particular budget and make some predictions for your project.Develop a Fitness App by DreamX
(App for tracking workouts with personal coach)
Approximate total time:
App complexity level:
As we promised at the beginning of our article, we’re happy to share a simple but effective trick that has already helped many of our clients to reduce their app development cost:
Minimum Viable Product is the most basic version of your app that contains vital features only. Still, MVP can be uploaded to the app stores to attract the first users! MVP development is cost-effective because:
How to calculate your MVP development cost? First of all, you need to define the MVP’s essential features. Then use the simple formula: development time x hourly rate of the needed experts + 15% for unexpected circumstances. If you need some expert advice on MVP creation and cost calculation, feel free to contact DreamX!
As Statista research shows, most users download FREE apps (as of 2022, 96,1% of apps on Google Play and 91.9% on App Store are free). So how should you monetize your app to return your app development investments and get profit? Here’re the most popular app monetization strategies:
Which monetization model is the best one? It depends on your app's peculiarities because there are a lot of benefits and pitfalls in each of them. This topic is also very comprehensive, so we think that it will be better to write a new article dedicated to it, what do you think?
Hope, that our app development cost guide was useful! And a friendly reminder: if you have a mobile app development idea and want to implement it into a cost-effective high-quality app, DreamX team is all set to help you!
|Table of contents|
|An App Development Cost Worldwide|
|Factors that Determine the Mobile App Development Cost|
|Hidden Factors Affecting Mobile App Development Cost|
|How much does it cost to put an app on the App Store/Google Play?|
|Step-by-Step Mobile App Development Process|
|Turning Your Ideas into Real Products with DreamX|
|Bonus #1: How Can You Reduce Your Mobile App Development Costs?|
|Bonus #2: How to Monetize Your App?|