In this article, we'll delve into the app development costs, providing exact numbers, exploring the factors that influence the final budget, and uncovering strategies to optimize your budget while bringing your app idea to life.
The high-level answer to “How much does it cost to make an app?” would be: it starts from around $25,000 and goes to $200,000 in general and is further limitless.
Approximate costs for rough understanding:
- Simple or MVP app: $25,000 – $70,000. It includes the most important features, basic UI/UX design, and one platform (iOS or Android) or cross-platform app development approach.
- Medium-complexity app: $50,000 – $150,000. Such apps have more features or the features are more complex, UI/UX elements used can also be more sophisticated. One platform or cross-platform app development approach.
- Complex app: $80,000 – $200,000+. Fully functioning apps with labor-intensive features, multiple integrations, and complex design, native or cross-platform apps. Among such apps are social network apps, AR/VR apps, healthcare, telemedicine, banking, and fintech apps.
If you want to discover more details about mobile app development costs, keep reading this guide.
5 Mobile app types and costs to develop them
The cost of app development strongly depends on the type of mobile app you want to build. So, let’s see how much it costs to develop 5 types of apps: e-commerce apps, on-demand services apps, food delivery apps, social apps, and fitness apps.
PS There is a breakdown of costs and development hours of other app types further in this section.
E-commerce mobile apps
A standard e-commerce app typically costs around $50,000 – $80,000.
It includes key features such as
- product catalog,
- user registration and authentication,
- shopping cart functionality,
- payment gateway integration,
- order management,
- inventory management.
Additional features that increase app development costs may include:
- search and filtering options,
- product reviews and ratings,
- social media integration,
- shipping and delivery tracking,
- customer support functionality.
Why does e-commerce need a mobile app?Read article
On-demand services apps
With a standard feature set provided below, the app development cost starts from $70,000.
A typical on-demand services app usually includes functionality:
- user registration,
- service listings,
- real-time tracking,
- payment integration,
- ratings and reviews,
- customer support.
Some complex features that adhere to the value of an on-demand services app include:
- advanced matching algorithms,
- surge pricing,
- in-app navigation.
These features enhance user experience, optimize service provider allocation, and provide efficient navigation to service locations. And increase the cost to develop an app 🙂
Food delivery apps
Cost of food delivery app development is often around $45,000 - $70,000.
Such apps offer a user-friendly interface and the following standard features:
- advanced search,
- filtering options,
- real-time order tracking,
- order history.
Extra features include:
- customization options,
- in-app support,
- loyalty programs.
A social app development cost is around $50,000 minimum.
This budget is required for a simple app with basic features:
- user registration and authentication,
- profile creation and management,
- the ability to connect and interact with other users,
- messaging or chat features,
- the ability to share and view posts, photos, and videos.
Additional features that increase user engagement may include:
- news feeds,
- privacy settings,
- options for liking, commenting, and sharing content.
These and other custom features increase the social app development cost up to $80,000 and more.
The approximate cost to develop a fitness app is from $40,000 to $90,000.
A standard MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of a fitness app should include this functionality:
- user registration and authentication,
- workout tracking with basic exercises and sets,
- goal setting,
- basic progress tracking.
Additional features may include:
- an exercise library,
- workout plans,
- simple nutritional tracking.
Development costs of other app types
Here’s the table showing the development hours and costs of other app types for your reference.
Note that the numbers provided are not the exact budgets, but references. Precise budget ranges can only be estimated based on particular app ideas and sometimes exceed these ranges.
Also if we are speaking of famous apps provided in the examples, the development cost of their exact copies would likely surpass the mentioned numbers.
App development cost: SolveIt’s experience
As you can see, it’s impossible to provide the exact numbers for app development costs without knowing the exact app idea, development approach, and other factors that influence the final budget.
However, we can share some precise costs of the apps that we developed for some of our clients. So, in this part, we are going to explain the costs of three apps that we delivered: a social app, a healthcare app with telehealth functionality, and a job search app.
LGBQ+ social media app
Total cost: $150,000.
We developed an amazing LGBTQ+ social platform that includes a cross-platform mobile app on Flutter and a web admin panel. This project took us 7 months and its general cost accounted for around $150,000.
Here’s a brief overview of the app’s features:
- The main feature is a friend-finder that matches users based on common interests and close locations (similar to Tinder).
- Events that enable to find local and virtual LGBTQ+ events, and create private or public events.
- Businesses to search a comprehensive list of LGBTQ-friendly businesses across the country and review the experience.
- Standard features such as user authentication, profile management, and notifications.
Medical app with telehealth functionality
Total cost: $160,000.
Another interesting project we’ll discuss was a medical app with telehealth functionality for a network of multi-focus clinics. We developed a user-friendly cross-platform mobile application for patients and an easy-to-use web application for doctors, backed up by the admin panel.
For the first MVP release, there was limited functionality though sufficient to satisfy user’s core needs:
- Appointment scheduling
- Test results
- Special programs and discounts
- History of visits
- Patient help center
Moving forward, the client decided to implement telehealth functionality and the ability to request a doctor’s visit at home. A brief overview of the features of this app’s part:
- Schedule and manage online consultations
- View the history of consultations
- Video conferences
- Doctor-patient chat
Job search app
Total cost: $50,000.
Now, let’s have a look at a less costly project of ours. For a well-known job search company in Moldova, we developed a cross-platform job search app using Flutter.
This app development cost $50,000. As you can see, compared to the previous cases, this app is much less expensive. Here are several reasons which made this project cost less:
- This type of app and the features are simple. The job search app doesn’t suppose having lots of features, usually, there are only several of them: looking for vacancies, applying to open positions, and profile management.
- The app is developed on Flutter that helped us significantly reduce development cost.
- It is an MVP app.
How much does it cost to make an app: Project phases cost
Mobile app development project has multiple stages which can be more or less costly. Here’s the list of mobile app development process stages that we are going to discuss further:
- Discovery phase & project specification
- Project management
Phase 1: Discovery phase
Project discovery or analysis phase is a preliminary step that helps to plan the project. At SolveIt, we provide project discovery services tailored to various business types: startups, SMBs, and enterprises.
The cost of the discovery phase starts from $7,500 for the minimum package and is usually within $30,000. Compared to the total project budget, the discovery phase is usually around 10% of it.
Discovery phase is an important step of any successful mobile app development project because it provides a clear vision of the product, its market potential, market validation, and writing the precise project development plan.
Discovery phase of a project: steps, deliverables, cost. Is it so important?Read article
Phase 2: Design
On average, the UI/UX design phase can occupy around 15-20% of the total project timeline and budget. The design phase is usually between $3,000 and $70,000 depending on the project's complexity and the client’s expectations.
The UI/UX design focuses on creating a visually appealing and intuitive user interface that enhances the overall user experience. During this phase, designers work closely with the client to understand their requirements and target audience to create wireframes, prototypes, and final designs.
Phase 3: Development
Development is the major part and ranges from 40% to 60% or even more of the total project budget and timeline. If calculated, it would account for roughly $20,000 – $120,000.
It involves the actual coding and implementation of the app's features and functionalities. The development includes frontend and backend programming, database integration, API integration, and other technical aspects.
Phase 4: Testing
QA and testing typically occupy around 15-25% of the total project estimates or $7,500 – $50,000.
At this stage, QA engineers create test plans, test cases, and scenarios to cover different aspects of the app, including functionality, usability, performance, compatibility, and security. They perform manual and automated testing, identify and report defects, and work closely with developers to resolve any issues.
Project Management is not an actual project phase, but rather an aspect of it that accounts for approximately 10-20% of the total project budget: $5,000 – $40,000. If other stages of the project can fluctuate more or less depending on the priorities (a stronger focus on design can increase this part regarding other stages), the Project Management part will always depend on the total project size.
Project Manager works throughout the whole project and is responsible for planning, organizing, managing timelines, and ensuring effective communication among team members and stakeholders.
Factors influencing mobile app development cost
As you can see app development budgets vary greatly: from as low as $25,000 to limitless numbers. Though frustrating, it is a normal situation, because there are multiple factors that strongly impact the cost of mobile app development. Let’s discuss these factors.
Factor 1: App complexity and type
The complexity of your app is a crucial factor in determining the development cost. Apps can range from simple, single-purpose applications to complex, feature-rich platforms with advanced functionalities. The more intricate the app's design and functionality, the higher the app development cost.
Here’s a brief overview of how app complexity influences the cost of development.
Factor 2: Features
The set of features and functionalities you want to have in your app is one of the most impactful factors of the app development cost estimation. Complex features like real-time synchronization, payment gateways, location-based services, and integration with third-party services may require additional development efforts and thus increase the cost.
That’s why, we strongly recommend to start with MVP that should have the basic feature set to satisfy user needs. This way you’ll be able to minimize the development cost without losing in quality.
Factor 3: Integration with external systems
If your app needs to integrate with 3rd party systems, such as social media platforms, payment gateways, or location services, the development cost will increase due to additional development time and effort required for integration.
For example, integrating a payment gateway will cost $4,000+. If you need Google Maps functionality available in your app, it will add $3,000+ to your app development budget. So, the more external services you include, the higher the cost.
Factor 4: Platforms and devices
How many platforms are required?
Developing an app for a single platform, such as iOS or Android, is generally more cost-effective than building for multiple platforms. Additionally, accommodating various devices, screen sizes, and resolutions can add to the development cost.
So, if the majority of your audience uses the same platform such as Apple, it may be reasonable to launch an iOS from the start and then extend it to other platforms.
Native VS cross-platform app development
The choice between native and cross-platform development approaches also influences app development costs. The main cost-wise difference is that cross-platform app development is faster thanks to a single code base and reusable pre-built elements. As fewer hours of development are required the cost is usually lower.
Generally, cross-platform development can offer cost savings ranging from 10% to 50% compared to native development, but these figures can vary and are not universally applicable to all projects.
How much does it cost to develop a Flutter app?Read article
Factor 5: UI/UX design
A visually appealing and intuitive user interface is vital for user engagement. The complexity of the design, the number of screens, and the need for custom graphics or animations significantly impact the app development cost. To provide a brief overview of this dependence, check out these numbers:
- Simple UI/UX design: from $3,000 to $10,000. A basic and straightforward design with minimal customizations and standard components.
- Customized UI/UX design: from $10,000 to $30,000. A more tailored and customized design with unique visual elements, animations, and interactive features.
- Complex UI/UX design: from $30,000 to $70,000 or more. Highly intricate and complex designs with advanced animations, transitions, and immersive user experiences.
Factor 6: Development team location and expertise
The location of the development team impacts app development costs due to fluctuations in hourly rates. Hourly rates in different countries vary based on the cost of living, average salaries, and currency exchange rates. So, hiring an app development team in America is twice more expensive than in Eastern Europe.
You can check out and compare the approximate hourly rates ranges of developers in the most popular IT regions:
Apart from the location, the expertise of the dedicated development team also plays a role. Highly skilled and experienced professionals often charge higher rates. Plus, if a specialist has unique or unusual competencies, they can set even higher rates due to low competition.
Unexpected factors that increase mobile app cost
There are some aspects that can significantly increase your project budget while not directly impacting the development cost. You should consider these factors as well when launching your app.
External services fees
Apart from the cost to integrate with your app and customize 3rd party services, there are licensing and usage fees charged by these services. The fees and charges vary based on factors like the number of users, volume of data, or specific features utilized.
These are some often implemented external services for your reference:
- Mailing services (Mailchimp, SendGrid, Mailgun): from $10 to $100+ based on email volumes and additional features.
- Chat (Twilio, Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM), SendBird): from $10 to $500+ depending on the number of users, messages sent, and extra features.
- Payment gateway (Stripe, PayPal, Braintree): fees typically involve a combination of transaction fees (from 2% to 3%+) and fixed fees per transaction.
The support stage in mobile app development involves providing ongoing maintenance, updates, and technical assistance for the app after its initial release. Usually, this post-launch stage is not considered a part of product development, but the budget for this long-term phase is worth being considered in advance.
Support services are billed based on predefined terms and conditions outlined in the agreement between the service provider and the client. The most common billing methods for SLA support services include a fixed monthly fee, hourly rate charges, and tiered support levels.
The basic monthly support fee starts at around $750-$1000 and increases based on various parameters: app complexity, platform(s), user base, support channels, response time requirements, and other factors. SLA agreements are usually effective for at least 3-6 months and require advance payments.
After the app launch it’s vital to attract the first users and keep promoting your app further. It includes app store optimization (ASO), search engine optimization (SEO) if you have a website, user acquisition, advertising, PR activities, and social media marketing.
For this, a decent marketing budget is required. However, the amount varies depending on the capabilities and desired outcomes. Based on our experience, somewhat minimum monthly app promotion budget is $2,500.
How to decrease the cost of mobile app development: 5 proven tips
Tip 1: Define a сlear scope
To make sure there will be no changes during development and scope creep, it is important to clearly define the scope and requirements of your app before starting development. The project discovery phase works here as an effective tool for project planning.
Thanks to a thoroughly performed discovery phase it is possible to reduce the development cost by up to 25%. We actually managed to do this for one of our clients when developing a medical app.
Tip 2: Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Starting with an MVP development reduces initial app development costs and allows you to iterate based on user feedback.
For a successful MVP launch, you should identify the most essential features for your app users. Focus on developing those features first and consider adding additional features in future updates. This approach helps to considerably minimize development time and cost.
Tip 3: Launch an app only for one platform, if possible
As a rough estimate, developing a native app for a single platform can potentially lead to cost savings of approximately 30% to 50% compared to developing apps for multiple platforms.
However, it's crucial to consider the target audience, market share, and user preferences when deciding whether to launch on a single platform or multiple platforms and make the right choice.
Tip 4: Consider cross-platform development frameworks
Cross-platform app development approach can cut from 10% to 50% of the total budget compared to native app development for two platforms. We strongly recommend using Flutter for cross-platform apps as it ensures faster time-to-market and high quality of the developed solutions.
“We strongly do not recommend using outdated and unreliable technologies such as Ionic, Xamarin, and others. Support, development, and constant updating/bug fixing of such apps will bring you a lot of headaches and extra costs.
Also, cool specialists prefer to work with fresh, promising, and quality technologies, which makes it difficult to find good specialists or a development partner for these outdated technologies.”
– Ilia Kiselevich, CEO & Founder
Flutter for app development: 10 reasons to chooseRead article
Tip 5: Outsourcing and offshoring
Another effective way to reduce app development cost is to outsource the project development to regions where the development rates are relatively lower: Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
For example, offshore development hubs based in Eastern Europe are well-known for a great number of highly-skilled professionals providing quality services. Important here that you thoroughly research and choose a reputable and experienced partner that provides dedicated development services.
“Ever-growing competition among development companies has complicated the process of choosing a reliable partner. To make the right choice, I’d suggest relying primarily on company reviews and domain expertise.
Check out Clutch, the most popular B2B service provider marketplace, for company reviews and expertise. It collects real and unbiased feedback from the clients, so it will help you form an objective impression of a potential partner.
As well, you should better choose a company based on domain expertise. For example, if you are looking to develop an e-commerce app, it is critical that a company has similar cases in its portfolio.
Finally, make a choice according to your budget opportunities. But when making the final choice in favor of a development company with low rates, remember: a miser pays twice.”
– Yana Maksimova, Head of Sales
FAQ: Mobile app development cost
1 | What factors influence the cost of app development?
The cost of app development is influenced by multiple factors, including the app's complexity, features and integrations, design requirements, platforms and devices targeted, development approach (native or cross-platform), and the experience and location of the development team.
2 | How can I estimate the cost of developing my app idea?
Estimating the cost of developing your app idea involves defining your requirements and breaking down the development process.
Assess the development approach, consider the required team and expertise, and request cost estimates from development companies or freelancers to get a clearer understanding of the overall cost. Don't forget to account for ongoing costs like maintenance, updates, and app promotion.
SolveIt provides free consultations that result in a product development budget and roadmap estimation. Contact us to get your app development budget calculated by experts.
3 | How can I reduce app development costs without compromising quality?
The best tips to decrease the development cost without reducing the quality of the developed solution include the following tips:
- Start with a discovery phase to clearly define the project scope,
- Develop an MVP with prioritized features,
- Launch an app only for one platform if that’s within your strategy,
- Consider cross-platform frameworks such as Flutter if you need more than 1 platform,
- Outsource app development.
4 | What are the typical hourly rates for app development?
The hourly rates for app development can vary widely depending on factors such as the location of the development team, their experience and expertise, the complexity of the project, and the specific services required.
Here are some general ranges for app development hourly rates based on geographical regions:
- North America and Western Europe: from $100 to $250.
- Eastern Europe: from $40 to $125.
- Asia: from $20 to $80.
- Latin America and Africa: from $20 to $60.
5 | How does the complexity and functionality of an app affect its development cost?
The complexity and functionality of an app directly influence its development cost.
More complex apps with advanced features, intricate designs, cross-platform compatibility, backend integrations, and stringent security requirements require additional development effort, leading to higher costs. Factors like third-party service integration, data management, and extensive testing also contribute to the overall development cost.
So, the answer to a very popular question “How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?” is simple as “It depends”.
Hopefully, our article helped you understand what exactly it depends on and got an idea of rough numbers.
If you still have questions about app development costs or want to calculate the precise budget, contact us. Our specialists will analyze your project requirements and provide you with an estimate.