Everything you need to know about the cost of developing an app
Adjust, Content Team, Adjust, Jan 27, 2023.
So, you’ve got a brilliant mobile app idea, and you’re ready to commit to it, but you’re uncertain about the cost of actually making an app. App developers must consider many factors when putting together an app development budget—from human resources to investment. Below, we provide an app development cost breakdown by platform, app vertical, and complexity.
Plus, get answers to these questions:
- How much does app development cost?
- What are the factors to consider when building an app?
- What is the average cost to develop an app, by app type?
- What is the cost to build an app, by development stage?
We’ve also put together a checklist of questions to help app developers determine their app development budget.
What is the average cost to develop an app?
Before diving into specifics, let’s cover the overview cost of creating an app by complexity:
- A simple app’s development will cost between USD$40,000-$60,000.
- An app with medium complexity will cost around USD$60,000-$150,000.
- An app requiring complex development will cost around $150-000 to over $300,000.
If you’re wondering which factors lead to app development complexity, consider the design and number of screens and features your app will have, the complexity of the app’s database and third-party integrations, as well as the size of your app development team, and more.
We recommend using an app cost calculator to help you better estimate the costs involved to assemble your app development budget.
App development cost by app type
In the table below, we’ve collected the latest data on the average cost to build an app, by these types: map app, payments app, fintech app, social media app, and gaming app.
Factors to consider when budgeting for app development
Before creating an app development cost breakdown, it’s imperative to review the following factors. Each will determine the cost and development time needed.
Depending on the complexity of your app, you’ll likely need to incorporate one or more of the features listed below, each adding its own cost.
Today, there are many types of location-based services, such as directions, maps, location-sharing, personalization based on location, and integration with other services, such as a ride-sharing app or weather app.
Tip: If you desire to create an iOS app with GPS, use Apple’s MapKit + Core Location. For an Android app, use Google Maps; and if your app is a hybrid app (meaning it will be on both iOS and Android platforms), opt for Google Maps.
Price or fare calculations
This feature allows users to automatically calculate the fare from one destination to another, fees included. From ride-sharing apps to travel booking apps, this feature is crucial to building user trust in a brand by providing transparent information.
Integrating a booking feature is key for many apps. It lets users reserve time slots for things like cabs, doctors’ appointments, tables at restaurants, or place an order from a grocery store or restaurant.
Today, having a payments features is a must for most apps. This feature should offer users flexibility in payment methods: from online banking, to credit and debit cards, to integration with payment gateway systems like PayPal and Klarna.
Whether it’s connecting your app’s users to each other or to a third party, chat functionality may be a necessary feature for your app. There are several out-of-the-box chat APIs like Sendbird or Podium that apps can utilize to facilitate group chats and one-to-one chats within their apps.
So, how will your app generate revenue? The monetization model of your app should be determined before you begin app development. If you have yet to start, read A beginner’s guide to mobile app monetization strategies, and then consider the following most popular models:
In-app advertising model: Placing ads inside of the app is how many apps generate revenue. In-app advertising includes rewarded video formats, playable ads, and native advertising.
Freemium (subscription) model: In this model, developers create an app that’s free to download. However, it will have limited access to content or services. But users can opt-in to a subscription plan to enjoy all of the benefits of the app and/or remove advertisements. For example, compare the music app Spotify, which is free but has ads, versus the paid version of the app: Spotify Premium, in which users can listen ad-free.
Paid app model: As the name implies, users must pay for the app in order to use it. Note that if you wish to utilize this model, your app must offer a unique functionality or value to ensure you can generate enough revenue for your app.
Sponsorship model: Sometimes referred to as a “partnership model,” a sponsorship model is when brands wish to pursue the user base of an app. Brands typically wish to sponsor when an app’s user base is large enough or niche yet high-value, then these companies will sponsor the app to expand their reach to the app’s users.
Tip: Learn more about app monetization trends, and if your app falls under the gaming vertical, check out In-game advertising.
Development team location and costs
Likely, a significant amount of your budget will be allocated to paying a development team to produce your app. The amount paid depends first on whether or not your team is already in-house within your company or if you need to outsource the job to an agency or freelancers.
Second, where the development team is geographically located will play a huge role in determining the costs. For example, the average hourly rate for app development in USD for freelancers in North America is $80-$150, $40-$65 in Eastern Europe, and $30-$45 in India.
This is the formula for calculating app development cost:
App’s total development time x hourly rate = The cost for app development.
Another factor to consider when calculating your mobile app development costs is the type of investors you have funding the initial stages of app development. Of course, if you’re in the beginning stages, you’re likely sourcing funds from your private network and your family and friends.
To obtain funding from venture capitalists, angel investors, or via crowdfunding, you’ll first need to solidify your app idea, perform market research, and have a revenue strategy in place in order to sell your app to potential investors. Additionally, having a minimum viable product (MVP) with your app’s core features is an excellent way to showcase your app’s market potential. In short, it’s crucial to gauge how much investment you can obtain before starting, during and after the app development process.
Tip: Often, mobile apps require additional funding. In a guest blog, Martin Macmillan, CEO and Co-Founder of Pollen VC, shares how Using player cohort data to open up new sources of funding for mobile gaming studio.
Mobile app platform(s)
You have four options for your app in terms of which app platforms you can build your app:
- iOS platform*
- Android platform*
- Hybrid (for both iOS and Android platforms)
- Progressive web app (PWA)
*Note that apps for either the iOS or the Android operating system are referred to as native apps.
The platform(s) on which you decide to build your app will most likely depend on your app’s vertical and target audience. For greater detail on the above types of apps, read What are the different app types and how do they work?
We’ve created a table below comparing iOS and Android development processes based on information from tech consultant site Djangostars. You can see many more factors exist besides the iOS app development cost or the Android development cost.
|Average cost of developer||Slightly higher||Slightly lower|
|Time needed to develop||Same||Same|
|Time needed to test||Less time (less variety of devices)||More time (greater variety of devices)|
|Dominating markets||U.S.; Western Europe||Asia, Africa, Australia|
Why many app companies opt for a hybrid app
Capabilities to consider by platform:
GPS sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, microphones, accelerometers, and cameras. Each of these capabilities is unique to its operating platform and should be considered when building a hybrid app.
How much does each development stage of an app cost?
Once you have the initial capital for your app, it’s essential to budget for all stages of building your app. Below you’ll find a cost estimation for each stage of the app development based on a recent study of app developers by UpCity.
The discovery phase of app development harnesses research to set up a long-term roadmap of the resources required to deliver the desired app. In the survey, 29% of the participating companies said the discovery phase cost them between USD$10,000-$15,000, and 28% said it cost them between USD$5,001-$10,000.
Note if you’re outsourcing that 50% of app development companies will require your app to go through the discovery phase before continuing its development.
Whether it’s designing the app icon or laying out the content to match the user journey, the design phase is the weightiest of the stages, as its goal is to produce the expected user experience in a well-structured user interface. Around 60% of the companies surveyed said they spend within USD $5,000-$50,000 during the design phase.
Testing and deployment phase
From beta testing to the official launch, the app testing and development phase is typically an ongoing one, meaning recurring maintenance costs should be considered. For example, if you plan to add more features after the initial release of your app, you’ll need to test to see how each feature works with the code you’ve already employed. So initial testing and deployment is said to cost 25% of development companies between USD $5,001-$10,000. Then, after the first year post-launch, 26% of app development agencies charge clients between USD $10,000-$15,000 for mobile app maintenance.
10 Questions to ask before starting app development
Now that we’ve provided an overview of the considerations you’ll need to account for before starting your app development process, we recommend you answer the following questions. In doing so, you’ll gain greater clarity in what you’ll need to budget for with the costs to make an app.
- What is your app’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
- Who are your competitors?
- Where is your market(s)?
- Which operating system(s) will you build the app for?
- Which core features must be included in the app’s initial launch?
- What is your app’s monetization model?
- Will you hire in-house or outsource the app’s development?
- Will your app require third-party integrations?
- What is your timeline for going from ideation to launch?
- What is your current budget to get started?
We hope this guide helped you map out your overall mobile app development costs. For more insights on performing market research for your app, check out I have an idea for an app. Now what? Your app launch guide.
Bonus tip: Invest in your app’s marketing before launching
Once you’ve finalized everything for your app’s launch, remember that Adjust’s mobile analytics platform can help amplify your launch campaign with our real-time campaign analytics, allowing you to optimize your campaigns for maximum results. We know you want to ensure your kick-off campaign is a success. So we have built our powerful measurement platform just for mobile app marketers to get results that deliver for their app launch marketing and subsequent campaigns. When you’re ready, request your personalized Adjust demo.