- It costs between $100,000 and $185,000 to develop an app similar to Uber, Instagram, or WhatsApp.
- The stages of the app development process are project analysis, UI/UX design, app development, QA testing and release.
- To decrease your app development budget, think about creating a cross-platform MVP app.
- You will need approximately $56,000 and around 4 months to create your own basic functionality app.
How much does it cost to make an app on average?
Apps come in different sizes — while providing a single number is possible, it oversimplifies things when it shouldn’t. So let’s take a look at some of the most common types of apps first: simple apps, average-complexity apps, and complex apps.
A simple app means an application with basic features and a standard template-based UI (user interface). Think of brochure type apps, maps or GPS trackers as an example.
An average-complexity app is more elaborate both in functionality and design. The examples range here is wider, as most of the apps in App Store or Google Play belong to this category. Social networking, fitness, photo editing apps of an average-complexity constantly enter the market.
Complex app means a fully customized application, packed with complicated up-to-date features and elaborate UI. It can have new technologies that were never used before and are developed from scratch. The spending in this case literally has no limit. Numbers are based on Goodfirms survey.
Depending on the number of innovations, the app developers involved and the desired functionality, the app development cost can reach more than a hundred thousand dollars.
The app development cost of applications like Uber, Instagram, or WhatsApp is $100,000 – $185,000, not to mention millions of dollars spent through the years on research, marketing and maintenance.
How much does it cost to develop an app? Cost breakdown
Here’s Purrweb’s app development cost breakdown. Bear in mind that these are approximate numbers — we based them on our calculation of a fitness app that has basic functionality. Read further and you will get the idea of how and why they may vary.
|Stage||Estimation in weeks||Approximate costs|
|App development||9 – 10||$36,000 – $40,500|
|QA Testing||concurrently with the development||$5,400 – $6,000|
|Project management||during the whole project||$3,950 – $4,100|
Overall, you will need approximately $56,000 to create your own basic functionality app. And the application development process will take 920 – 1020 hours, which equals 4 months. If you want a more personalized number, look for app development cost calculators on the internet — they can help estimate your project’s MVP cost.
If you need another example of an app development cost breakdown, take a look at our restaurant order management application Grecha: we built an MVP in 3,5 months, which cost $47,640.
Stage 1. Project analysis — $1,000
About a decade ago, every business dreamed of creating an app just for the sake of having one. Startups were more concerned with what they COULD do, and not WHY should they do it, so the project analysis stage, or the discovery stage, was frequently underestimated.
Even nowadays, according to a Clutch survey, only 70% of clients go through the project analysis stage with their development team. However, the mobile app market is highly competitive, so the decision to eliminate the first stage can only lead to reputational and financial losses.
As you can see in our own Purrweb’s breakdown, the average cost of this stage is relatively low. Yet it can save thousands of dollars in the future.
So, what are we doing on Stage 1?
- You present your idea, budget and the features you wish to see in the app to a project manager.
- Together you analyze the market, either by using your own pre-collected information or by ordering a detailed market research.
- You select the desired features. The project manager correlates the demands with your development budget.
- Finally, you approve of the cost and timelines of the project.
Stage 2. UI/UX design — $5,400
Now, when you have a blueprint of an app, it’s time to design it. Cost of UI/UX design may vary depending on the number of screens your app has and the designer you choose. You can also face additional expenses if you change the functionality of the app or the whole initial idea.
What is happening on Stage 2?
- All features you listed on Stage 1 transform into a map of the user’s behavior and the navigation of the app becomes clear.
- Designers develop wireframes and show you mockups that include all buttons, icons, text fields and the way of their interaction.
- You get a design concept with several finished screens, which can be shown to the investors.
- Finally, mockups of all screens are created, along with a UI-kit — a set of interface elements in your brand style.
Stage 3. App development stage — $36,000
This stage is the longest and the most costly. Mobile app development team enters the scene and brings designer’s mockups to life.
The app development costs here depend mainly on 2 factors. The first one is the number of platforms you choose for your mobile app development project — iOS, Android or both.
If you want to save money and time, go for cross-platform development. It works mainly on the React Native framework, which allows sharing the code between Android and iOS apps. Thus, your app appears on both platforms with the help of only one app developers’ team.
The second factor is the number of features and app complexity. Simple features, such as push-notifications and user reviews, tend to cost less, whilst more elaborate ones, such as payment systems development, can be really expensive. We’ll take a look at them in depth later.
What is happening on Stage 3?
- The development team starts to code! The mobile app development process is divided into sprints, and developers implement new features every fortnight.
- You get a demo at the end of each sprint, ensuring that everything goes as planned and seeing the intermediate results of the development process.
Stage 4. QA Testing — $5,400
Every time the development team builds a new feature, QA engineers start searching for bugs, so that programmers can fix it.
The cost of QA testing is approximately 30% of the app development cost. Though bear in mind that maintaining an app is not a one time task. After development, every application needs post-release continuous support.
Stage 5. Project management
Project management accompanies the development process from the very beginning until launch. It comprises around 15% of the total app development cost.
Project manager acts as a link between you and the development team. Not only do they manage the staff and make all deadlines meet, but they also consult the startup along the way and help in decision-making.
Worldwide hourly rates
Now that we’ve spilt the beans and revealed our own Purrweb’s estimation, as well as the average cost of developing an app worldwide, let’s see how things are going in specific geographical regions.
We mentioned that one of the factors that influences the cost of building an app is the number of platforms you wish to cover.
An app development company’s location is also highly important. Hiring specialists from countries with low market prices for mobile development can significantly reduce the cost of creating an app. Consider this option if you’re ready to take the overseas communicational risks.
Take a look at some mobile app developer rates by country — they’re calculated on an hourly basis:
|Canada||90 – 120||80 – 140||90 – 120|
|The USA||60 – 120||60 – 120||60 – 130|
|Latin America||28 – 90||28 – 90||40 – 160|
|The UK||60 – 75||60 – 75||55 – 75|
|Europe||35 – 55||35 – 55||30 – 50|
|Ukraine||40 – 78||38 – 60||40 – 78|
|South Africa||45 – 80||40 – 80||40 – 80|
|India||22 – 90||15 – 25||20 – 30|
|Southeast Asia||23 – 55||30 – 45||30 – 45|
|Asia||25 – 35||20 – 30||25 – 35|
|Australia||90 – 120||100 – 120||90 – 120|
If you want a more descriptive example, take a look at a map with rate estimates.
App features — implementation cost
There are other ways to calculate app development cost outside of looking at their types. Some features have a small app development budget of their own. We’ll provide 4 examples of the most frequently requested app features — you’ll get to understand their general purpose and price.
Push Notifications — $3 320
This feature allows you to stay connected to your audience. Each time you send a notification to your user, they get reminded of you and your app — it’s a great way to lure users in.
Another benefit of push notifications is increased user retention. You can use this feature to introduce new features and offer some benefits or bonuses to your users. This increases the chances of them entering your app and doing what you want them to.
Dashboard — $7 750
This feature offers a convenient way to look at data important for users. In the case of a financial app, dashboards help track expenses and distinguish spending patterns. And if we’re talking about a healthcare app, a feature like this can show the calories you burned or the time you spent on a workout in the form of a diagram.
User profile — $4 480
Many apps base their selling points on customization. Personalizing a type of content you can view and other settings in the product is impossible without user profiles. They typically have every bit of info necessary about the user: name, phone number, avatar, etc.
The look and focus of user profiles depends on the type of app they’re in. For example, some apps make the avatars larger — e.g. dating apps. Other apps, like review aggregators, make sure to highlight the user’s previous reviews.
Calendar — $8 330
A feature present in a lot of apps. There are different reasons why. For example, healthcare apps use calendars to tell users their exact pill taking schedule or the date of the next doctor’s appointment. Fitness apps use it to showcase the next workout session. This feature is very versatile.
Financial transactions — $4 270
One of the most common monetization models is a premium subscription. A lot of apps hide additional features behind a paywall. If a service is good enough, users still buy a subscription — no matter how inconvenient it may seem.
Getting a payment module to work and collecting personal data like card numbers require a separate feature — financial transactions. This feature makes earning money from a product much easier. Without financial transactions, subscriptions are impossible to implement in an app.
Examples of app development cost
We guess you’ve already compared your future app with existing ones. We gathered some information on app development costs of famous applications.
This social dating app recognizes the user’s location and offers profiles of matching users. The signature feature of Tinder is swiping — users can like or dislike certain profiles by swiping them left or right. What else is hidden in Tinder’s code? It’s Facebook or phone number login, unlimited messaging, video chat, search filters and securing users’ profile.
A feature-rich app that not only allows users to post and edit their photos and videos, but provides tons of other functions. Live videos and IGTV, direct messaging and in-app phone calls, searching, following and blocking users. There’s also a built-in shopping feature and special account settings for businesses.
The main logic behind the Uber app is recognizing locations of the user and available drivers, connecting the two and following the ride in real-time up to the destination point. Other interesting features here are rating system, chatting, different payment options and accessing user’s orders history.
The messenger lets users share texts, pictures, videos, audios and geo-locations, either one-on-one or in group chats. End-to-end encryption feature makes the app valued by the users, who appreciate concern for their security levels.
Estimate cost of apps by their type: 8 examples
Different types of applications require developing different logic and features. Let’s take a closer look at 8 app types and learn their cost grounding.
Users open these apps every day. They literally become their virtual buddies, counting their calories, putting on favorite music and helping to choose the best restaurant for dinner. An app will become indispensable if it is linked to other software the customer is using.
We had this idea in mind when we developed a mental health app Breathmethod, which has Face ID sign-in for user convenience and Instagram posts integration that complements the impeccable design with an individual approach.
Estimated cost: $40 000 to $50 000
Social media apps
The main goal of a social media app lies in its name. The features that are crucial are creating your own content and sharing it. Social media apps should be fast, have a responsive design and frequent updates, so that no bugs ruin the user’s experience.
If you want to know how to make an app like Instagram, check out our article about it.
When we made a social travel platform TripChron, we focused on giving users the opportunity to share their travel routes and follow other enthusiasts.
Estimated cost: $55 000 to $65 000
Online education market is growing rapidly. Users learn foreign languages, get certificates in new professions and pass exams online. What features help them achieve their goals?
In iZumator, the platform for online education developed by Purrweb, we made a range of roles with different access. Student, mentor, assistant, admin and supervisor each have their own pack of features (viewing courses, creating groups, checking homework, etc.)
Estimated cost: $60 000 to $70 000
Fitness and productivity apps
These apps are indispensable when they really help the user get their job done. The most important features here can be a desktop version, integration with basic utilities such as a calendar, phone book or a GPS-tracker.
Check our FitForce.com app that helps fitness trainers achieve their professional goals. The app can schedule their sessions, manage invoices, and track their clients’ success via phone or computer. It even has a chat-bot!
Estimated cost: $40 000 to $50 000
Professional platforms are tools making the work simpler by covering certain functions that otherwise users would have to do manually. This app needs administrative features: reminders, push-up notifications, calendar and group work chat.
The online psychotherapy app is an example of a highly effective professional platform that we’ve built. The features kit depends on the account type: people, who are searching for a psychiatrist, get a chat-bot to help in their journey, whilst specialists see features that manage their workload and invoices.
Estimated cost: $55 000 to $65 000
The goal of a HoReCa mobile app is to simplify interaction between guests and staff. An app logic should be smooth and transparent as there are often a lot of users involved — both on guest’s and on the owner’s side. A customer should see a menu, a waiter — his orders, a supply manager — the amount of vegetables left. All these better not be mixed up.
When we created NoTab, an independent ecosystem for nightclubs, we focused on dividing the roles to make an app-kit more effective. Admin, kitchen, staff and guests each got their own platform and a separate number of features.
Estimated cost: $50 000 to $60 000
Finance is a sphere where both a vendor and a user want to feel secure. When planning main features of a Fintech app, think of beginners who are afraid to do something wrong, push unnecessary buttons and lose their money because the app is too confusing.
When we developed a multi-currency crypto wallet Broex our goal was to make an easy-to-use tool with intuitive design, navigation, and interface patterns familiar to most users. The created app turned out to be clear and user-friendly, which is a must for a Fintech startup.
Estimated cost: $75 000 to $85 000
When you buy something online, you have a product catalog, a shopping cart, and a list of delivery options. But what makes an e-commerce app effective is an additional service — push-notifications that will remind the user of his order, parcel tracker and secure payments.
In our pharmacy app, we ensured that the payment process requires only one tap to proceed even for non-authorised guests.
Estimated cost: $40 000 to $50 000
Factors that affect app costs
Types of apps aside, there are specific aspects of development and design that influence the app development budget. Let’s take a closer look at 4 of them:
Number of features
The more features in an app, the greater the costs — that’s because app developers have to take more time to create features.
Let’s take a look at a more hands-on example — we created an app for pet owners and an ecosystem for nightclubs which we already mentioned. Their prices differ because of the number of features — the ecosystem has way more of them.
|PetBuddy for pet care||NoTab nightclub ecosystem|
|1 user role: dog or cat owners||5 user roles: e.g. waiters, kitchen staff, admins, dancers, and guests|
|1 user flow, basic features — costs less||5 user flows — costs more|
The number of features isn’t the only factor. Not all features are made equal — some are more complex to create than others.
Think of an e-learning app, for instance. How do you motivate users to open the product and engage in lessons? There are two ways:
- You can show a success screen that simply says “Good job!” and urges the user to continue.
- Or integrate gamification with progress trackers, storylines, and game characters.
The app based on gamification requires additional screens, time, and resources to map out its logic, so it ends up costing more.
Complexity of design
Certain design elements can end up costing more resources in the long run. Creating a simple header is different from a unique button with animations and separate states. Take a look at some of the differences between cheap and expensive design elements.
|A design feature||Cheap design||Expensive design|
|Icons, images, buttons||Reused or bought from elsewhere||Made from the ground up|
|Branding||The client has their own style, no need to rework it||The client doesn’t have anything, so designers need to make it themselves|
|UI kit||Already exists, no need to change it||Doesn’t exist, designers have to spend resources making it|
We’ve already mentioned Breathmethod. The app’s design needed to reflect calmness and tranquility, so we added photos and created animated elements. Also, we integrated a “peaceful” color palette and came up with the app branding from the ground up.
On the contrary, the medicine delivery app’s design isn’t too complicated. It has simple icons, monochrome color palette, and a standard layout.
Type of design team
Different design teams offer various app development prices. Some of the reasons can be chalked up to the experience of the vendor. However, most of it depends on the type of design team. Let’s take a closer look:
Freelance designers. They typically offer the cheapest rates. However, there are many drawbacks: for example, there’s no guarantee they’ll deliver a great product. Undoubtedly, there are good designers, but they’re difficult to find.
In-house teams. These types of teams have higher development costs overall. Not only does a client have to pay salaries and bonuses, they have to spend time sifting through candidates, onboarding new colleagues, and managing staff.
Outsourcing companies. These teams strike a balance in terms of app development price and quality. You hire a reputable vendor to create a project, nothing more.
How much does it cost to update an app
Overall, a year of updates can cost as little as 20% of the initial app development price — e.g. $11,720 for a $58,600 app. Take a look at a table we compiled that shows what these maintenance costs consist of.
|Update type||How much time it takes||What needs to be done||How many employees needed||Price range|
|New features||From a couple of weeks to several months||Preparing wireframes, developing features, QA testing||3-5 team members||Depends on the feature|
|Continuous support||20-40 hours||QA testing, update implementation||2 team members — a developer and a project manager||20% of the total app price|
Let’s analyze some of the aspects in depth:
- Type of modifications. It’s important to distinguish whether you want to fix some minor issues or add new features from scratch.
- Number of hours. The agency takes a look at the changes needed to implement — and calculates the amount of time the work will take.
- Number of specialists involved. Lastly, the design team estimates how many resources it needs to spend — in this case, how many designers to deploy for an update.
How much time does it take to develop an app
An app can take from 3 months up to an entire year. Some of it depends on the functionality — e.g. if you’re planning on making a full-blown app with all the features or a simple MVP.
Take a look at the process in depth — we’ve outlined the estimated timeframe for each stage of app development:
|Stage||How much time it takes|
|Project analysis||1 week|
|UI/UX design||4 weeks|
|App development and QA testing||9 – 10 weeks|
Hidden App Development Costs You Need to Know
If you’ve already balanced the till and thought that you know how much does it cost to create an app, we should warn you it’s not final. There are a few hidden costs that you may not have taken into consideration.
Hidden cost #1: App maintenance
Launching an app is the start of a journey, not its finish. You will have to maintain the app, which can cost about 50% of your total cost in the first year and 25% and less in the next few years. This hidden cost includes:
- Bug fixes
- Platform updates
- New features development
- Studying users’ feedback
- API maintenance
Hidden cost #2: Subscription for services
Depending on the functionality of the app, you may need to subscribe to paid services that will make your features work.
- Email senders
- SMS senders
Hidden cost #3: Infrastructure
The app complexity and the amount of data that the app will store and use can add up to infrastructure costs.
- Data and images storage
Hidden cost #4: Marketing
App marketing is highly important, because without promotion it would be difficult for your target audience to get to know your product. This hidden cost has no ceiling — apps that you see on top of their categories are likely to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing.
- Marketing campaigns
- Collaborations with brands
- App store optimization
How to decrease your app development budget
We’ve answered the question of “How much does it cost to make an app?” Now let’s discuss two things that can decrease your app development cost.
Option 1. Cross-platform custom app development
We’ve already discussed that one of the important factors that influence the cost is the number of platforms you chose to cover. We’ve also analyzed how much does it cost to build an app on native iOS and Android platforms or on both simultaneously.
If you want to save time and money on mobile app development, go with the cross-platform option despite the cross-platform mobile app developers charging more. You will need only one cross-platform team instead of two native teams to release your mobile app on iOS and Android platforms.
Option 2. MVP development
MVP — Minimum Viable Product — a first version of your app. The MVP approach helps to pay more attention to the features that would distinguish your service from the competitors. How can it help decrease the cost to build an app?
How can it help decrease the cost to build an app?
- Get feedback
MVP can help you gather valuable user feedback before spending the entire app budget on a product that doesn’t meet customer expectations.
- Raise funds
Investors won’t allocate funds on the idea alone. An MVP is a working app and its commercial potential can be seen and measured.
- Check feasibility
An entrepreneur is not a programmer. They can plan app functionality that is impossible to bring to life from the development perspective. MVP helps to test vital apps functions, its scalability and algorithm realization without large capital injection.
Check out our chef’s food delivery app Talentum. We’ve used users’ feedback on MVP to increase the credibility of the product by creating a feature that allowed users to chat with chefs and discuss their diet plan personally.
Option 3. Hire an outsourcing firm
An outsourcing firm takes the project under its control. You don’t need to worry about meeting deadlines, hiring developers, and managing existing staff. Outsourcing mobile app development does several things:
Cuts down development costs. No need to pay additional bonuses and taxes alongside regular salary.
Speeds up development time. You don’t have to onboard new employees. And because you save time, developers technically work fewer days — you once again save money.
In this article we’ve shared a detailed mobile app development cost breakdown and highlighted industry insights on hidden costs and ways to decrease your app budget. Let’s discuss how much does app development cost. Fill the form below and we will contact you in 24 hours.