June 28, 2023

How Much Does App Development Cost?

Whether you're a project manager or an entrepreneur, it's common to feel overwhelmed when it comes to app development. Trying to grasp the cost structure and ensuring that you have all the necessary app features can be a challenging task.

So, how much does it actually cost to build an app? If you're a project manager leading a mobile app development project for the first time or an entrepreneur starting your own company, this is likely the question at the forefront of your mind. After all, you want to accurately plan your app development budget.

Given the numerous options available for mobile app development, businesses interested in creating an app often have many questions about the process. Some of these questions may include:

  • How can I find a qualified development team?
  • How can I determine their level of expertise?
  • What will be the overall cost?

The last question is especially crucial for your budgeting purposes. The answer depends on your approach to developing the mobile app and the specific variables associated with your app project.

In this article, we will cover the fundamental aspects to consider when understanding the costs involved in developing mobile apps. This will provide you with a general understanding of the factors that contribute to the app development cost breakdown and the workflow you need to consider throughout the app development process.

While this article primarily focuses on mobile apps, the principles discussed here are also applicable to other types of apps.

Factors to Consider: How Much Does it Cost to Build an App?

When it comes to building mobile apps, there are three key factors that you should consider:

  1. Type of App
  2. Scope
  3. Development Team

Type of App

Determining the type of app you want to build is a crucial factor in determining the overall development cost. Each type of app has its own level of complexity and specific requirements for developers. For example, building a sophisticated FinTech app is different from creating a basic eCommerce app.

Consider whether you want a mobile app, a web app, a hybrid app, or an API integration for an existing platform like WordPress. The complexity of the app depends on factors such as the amount of code required, debugging and maintenance efforts, and the inclusion of services related to DevOps or Quality Assurance.

Additionally, keep in mind that even within the same operating system, such as Android or iOS, there are various types of apps that possess unique characteristics. If you aim to deliver a top-notch user experience and budget is less of a concern, a native app might be the ideal choice. Native apps run directly on the user's device, utilizing exclusive features of the device.


The scope of your app, including the required features, plays a significant role in the final development cost. Some individuals have a clear vision of the desired features right from the start, while others adopt an iterative approach with evolving requirements.

The number and complexity of mobile app features directly impact the overall cost. Although some app development companies offer cost estimation calculators based on features, these estimates may not always be accurate due to the unique nature of each project.

Consider if you need third-party API integrations, payment or membership systems, and the overall functionality of your app. Even two basic functions can cost less than a single complex function. Additional features that can increase costs include dynamic content updates, location-based features, enhanced security measures, development for multiple platforms, and user registration and database management.

Development Team

Choosing the right development team is crucial for the success of your app. The internet provides access to a vast pool of developers, each with varying skill sets and expertise. Here are some factors to consider for each type of app developer:

  • Freelancers from platforms like Upwork might be more affordable, but it can be challenging to ensure their expertise and accountability.
  • Local consultants offer proximity but may have limited resources and experience compared to larger teams. They generally cost more than online freelancers.
  • Custom software development companies have a diverse talent pool and can offer project success guarantees, but they come with higher costs.
  • Agencies can manage your development project, saving time and effort. However, traditional agencies often lack long-term client relationships. Look for specialized software companies or agencies with reputable credentials, such as a strong portfolio, positive client reviews, and recognition in the industry.

Low-Cost Offshore  agencies in India, Eastern Europe or even China may offer lower labor costs, but language barriers, time zone differences and communication issues can arise, also they are known for their low quality. Onshore and Nearshore agencies may be more expensive, but they provide a lower risk option due to local consumer laws, closer time zone, a more aligned culture and better face-to-face interaction.

If you prioritize hiring the best team, consider companies with established credentials, extensive portfolios, positive reviews from past clients, and awards in the field of app development. While these agencies price may be higher, the total cost of ownership will be lower, as they offer assurance that your app is in capable hands.

Average App Development Cost Estimate

Determining the exact cost of app development is challenging since it depends on various factors. However, let's consider some average estimates to give you an idea.

Here are some numbers to keep in mind:

  • Average hourly rates for development in the USA range from $100 to $160 per hour.
  • Maximum costs at those rates can reach $580,000 to $925,000.
  • The median cost for mobile projects with lower rates falls around $120,000 to $250,000. So be aware that your project may surpass these figures.

For enterprise-level apps, the cost typically ranges from $50,000 to over $1 million, with an average of $275,000.

To put it in perspective, here are the average costs of developing apps similar to these popular ones:

  • Uber: $1.5 million (higher for subsequent versions)
  • Instagram: $500,000
  • Small e-commerce site (generating up to $1 million in revenue): $100,000

Keep in mind that these average costs are based on development in the US. If you choose to develop in Eastern Europe or Asia, the costs may be significantly lower. However, it's important to consider that opting for extremely low rates might compromise the success of your project. It's crucial to work with a professional app development company, as building a high-quality app requires a reasonable investment. Remember, when it comes to developing a top-notch app, cheap can end up being expensive.

Post-Development Process Costs

If budget plays a significant role in your decision-making process, it's essential to note that app development costs don't usually end with the initial version of your app. Ongoing updates, new features, and tweaks will incur additional expenses.

According to Forrester research, the average amount spent on developing an app represents only around 35% of the true two-year development cost. If you're investing in app development, be prepared to allocate a budget for app maintenance and any desired iterations or enhancements to the mobile app.

Final Thoughts

The cost of developing an app is a popular topic, but it's important to understand that there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The quotes you receive for app development will vary based on factors such as the developer you choose, the type of app you want, and the complexity of its features.

However, the saying "you get what you pay for" still holds true. Many companies have learned the hard way that opting for a cheaper development route often leads to issues down the line, requiring them to hire another team to fix their app. When searching for a mobile app development company, look for examples of their work and their credentials to ensure their expertise and reliability.

Additionally, don't forget to consider ongoing maintenance costs and future development needs. Both Android and iOS apps require periodic updates to stay up to date. Anticipate the possibility of making changes and choose a developer who will be available to accommodate those changes.

If you're looking for a rough estimate of your mobile app development project, consider booking a free consultation. Ultimately, there's no definitive answer to the question of how much it costs to build an app, but consulting with experts can provide valuable insights.

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