How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App in 2021?
How much does it cost to make an app for your business? It is the first question you should ask while you start determining app development cost in 2021.
Many factors influence the price, depending on the complexity of the app development, at 40$ per hour, the average cost will be:
- Simple App Development Cost – $40,000 to $60,000
- Average App Development Cost – $60,000 to $150,000
- Complex App Development Cost – from $300,000
This article will be an excellent resource for the founders.
Here, you can find information about the factors that affect application costs, hidden application development costs, and how to choose an app development company.
Want to strike a balance? Read on.
We have covered this topic of the cost of developing an app in detail.
If you prefer visual to text, then go straight to the bonus infographic “App development cost in 2021”.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App?
The cost of building an app ranges from $10,000 to $150,000 and depends on app complexity.
|App Type||Estimate Cost||Time|
|Simple App Development||$40,000 to $60,000||2-3 months|
|Basic App Development||$60,000 to $150,000||3-6 months|
|Complex App Development||from $300,000||9+ months|
The answer to how much it costs to develop an app can quickly go overboard due to the app features.
There are several options to get the estimation of your app project. The most reliable one is to contact the developers. But you can also use the app cost calculator.
If you send a request to the development studio to estimate the typical cost range of custom app development without proper documentation and terms of reference, the cost will likely be very approximate.
In contrast, the proper and precise cost calculator needs to include a wide variety of mobile app development services and the required amount of time:
- the complexity of the design and number of screens;
- development process;
- quality assurance phase;
- number of functions and features;
- the complexity of features;
- the complexity of database;
- number and complexity of 3rd party integrations;
- implementation of security protocols like HIPAA or GDPR;
- size and level of the development team.
At SpdLoad, to determine the cost to create an app, we follow an iterative estimation process.
To know more about it, take a look at our project discovery phase.
To get an idea of the costs of creating an app, let’s look at the world app development statistics.
App development cost statistics
The mobile development growth in the world determines the popularity of apps and the cost of app development.
The total number of apps available for download in app stores is over 7 million.
Mobile app development has researched statistics showing exciting facts about the app development industry and costs in 2021.
Here, you can find some figures to study, based on the different sources and methodologies:
- On average, over 100,000 new apps are released on Google Play every month, and over 30,000 on the Apple App Store (Statista)
- Free apps dominate the app development market. The most effective pricing strategies for most are free and freemium. For example, free utilities n the Apple App Store account for approximately 92% of the total (Statista)
- The mobile app industry revenue reached $581.9 Billion in 2020. If this trend doesn’t change, the industry’s revenue will reach almost $ 1 trillion in 2023 (Statista)
- The mobile app development market is expected to grow more than 18.4% by 2026 and is predicted to reach an industry of $ 407.31 billion by 2026 (Market Research)
- Almost 90% of the time people spend on apps. Soon, people will use a mobile device for 4 hours a day, and 88% of this time will be for the activity in applications (eMarketer)
- 66% of smartphone users download games. At the same time, over 95% of all users download messaging, communication applications, and web browsers, etc. (Statista)
The cost of app development dramatically depends on the type of application.
Now when we are sure that you are aware that the market is growing very actively and rapidly, let’s look at what the app prices depend on.
Cost of app development by type
The type of application is another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Below is a list of the most popular types of apps and the average development cost involved:
|App Type||Estimate Cost||Time|
|Taxi App (Uber)||$32,000-$400,000||1,600h|
|Augmented Reality App (AR)||$100,000-$250,000||1,600h|
|Social Media App (Instagram)||$24,000-$300,000||1,200h|
|Learning App (DuoLingo)||$18,000-$225,000||900h|
|Video Streaming App||$30,000-$300,000||1,600h|
|Food Delivery App||$20,000-$150,000||900h,|
Besides the type, the cost of app development depends on the country. Let’s see how.
Cost of app development by region
A high price does not always indicate a high-quality product. It only shows the salary variations of programmers in different countries.
Let’s compare the programmers’ rates in different regions:
|Region||Hourly rate, $|
|United States (USA)||120-150|
|United Kingdom (UK)||100-120|
As we can see, the price difference is substantial.
The most expensive app development process is in the United States, $120-150 per hour, while the same product can cost you $20-30 per hour in India.
However, it is crucial to understand that the hourly rate will differ depending on the:
- the complexity of the project, the specialists involved (programmers, testers, scrum master, business analyst, project manager),
- their qualifications (senior, middle, or junior).
The more information you have the better prepared you will be to evaluate the proposal.
These primary cost factors for an application will help you get an initial design for an application that meets your requirements.
Moving on with the next part of the typical app development cost, let’s take a few successful application examples.
Examples of App Development Cost
Below you will find the examples of applications along with their price and app development time.
It is only to give you an idea about the app development cost and not the actual cost of an app based on our own experience.
Example #1: Tinder
Tinder is one of the most popular dating applications.
In 2012, the year it appeared on the market, it raised $485,000 in the seed.
Tinder’s functionality is quite simple for users. It’s just a function to swipe right and left for liking or disliking a particular person.
In case the person you liked returns the affection, the application creates a match.
The cost of such an application can start from $70,000, and it can take about 1,000 hours.
The cost of a dating app like Tinder requires the calculations of such app features as:
- GPS location, settings,
- user profile,
- matching functionality,
- push notifications,
- and 3rd party integration.
Example #2: Ikea
Ikea is a brand-based application that was developed with the help of Augmented Reality. The photos of the furniture in their catalogs are mostly 3d models.
Due to the various new features and integrations plus security aspects, these apps increase the bill but add many functionalities.
The cost of such an application can start from $45,000, and it can take about 1,000 hours.
The features of the mobile app design include:
- 3D visualization of the products,
- compliance with social media sharing,
- 360-degree view of the products,
- real-time dashboard and analytics,
- CRM integration.
Example #3: Uber
Uber is an example of a successful ride-hailing app.
But in fact, an app like Uber has 3 applications: 2 mobile applications – for the passenger and driver, and a web application – the admin panel.
Hence, the app development budget should be as for 3 different applications.
The cost of such an application can start from $50,000, and it can take about 1,200 hours.
The features of the app include:
- payment integration,
- routing and advanced route optimization,
- SMS and push notifications integration,
- and more additional features.
Example #4: TikTok
TikTok is a popular social media application for video-sharing.
The cost of developing an app like TikTok can increase by the extent of app features and functionalities it offers.
The cost of such an application can start from $70,000 and can take about 1,200 hours.
The app features include:
- online messaging,
- video calls,
- multi-language support,
- sharing images, videos,
- user connecting, and much more.
Example #5: Airbnb
Airbnb is an example of a thriving marketplace app.
Typically, a marketplace is the fusion of an on-demand app and e-commerce store. Due to this, the mobile app cost and development time will be higher.
The cost of such an application can start from $75,000, and it can take about 1,000 hours.
It will have some advanced features like:
- Search for available living units and last-minute booking,
- Save list for favorite homes and places,
- Co-planning of a trip and referral system,
- Advanced booking workflow including date, check-in, and more details,
- In-app chat, and more.
Factors that Affect Application Costs
Before creating the mobile application, you need to analyze the target audience and business objectives, understand how to develop an app, and choose a platform to code.
The buttons, screens, and other elements make the application unique, engaging, and convenient, but each additional piece affects the overall project budget.
Therefore, it is essential to pre-develop a prototype and think over the functionality to the smallest detail.
This functionality influence the following factors that affect the price.
How much it cost to build an app depends on three things:
- The application’s complexity levels
- Design and Structure
- The platform on which the application will run
We will discuss these three aspects in detail, starting with the complexity.
Factor 1. Complexity Level of App Development
The smaller and simpler the application, the less time you will need for its development. When it comes to the timing of the application development, you need to decide on the scale of the upcoming work.
How many features will be implemented in the product? How many screens, buttons, functions will it have? How complex will the application’s business logic be?
The complexity level of the app depends on the features and integrations you choose and how to get an app developed.
|Type of complexity||Characteristics|
|Simple apps|| |
|Mid-level apps|| |
|Complex apps|| |
If we’ve chosen an entire expert development team for our project:
- a project manager,
- a UI/UX designer,
- iOS or/and Android developer,
- a backend developer,
- and a QA engineer,
The terms of app development in each category will be the following:
- Simple Apps – 2 to 4 months
- Mid Level Apps – 6 to 10 months
- Complex Apps – 8 months to a year or more
The cost of developing mobile applications is highly dependent on the level of complexity and the size of the project.
Type 1. Simple Complexity
It consists of basic features, three to four screens, simple functions, and no data storage.
That is an overview of a simple application.
Such an application will have the main features, including:
- Profile making and editing
- Admin panel or dashboard
The cost will be determined based on a collection of features offered through the app.
Examples: A calculator app, time tracking app, notes app, social networks.
Type 2. Basic complexity: database and API-based applications
Why does an airplane cost more than a car?
Similarly, to develop an app, adding more features and databases will increase the cost.
In these applications, you are looking to add some extra features (other than the ones you find above)
- Social Media Integration
- In-App Purchases
- Payment Portals
- Location Tracking
- Better Security
Apart from these, there is better accessibility and usage of robust infrastructure.
These are the applications that require data storage, retrieval from more than one database, and more synchronization.
To build such an app, you should also understand how large the customer base is; it also helps define the cost and price range.
So, the higher complexity and number of features offered by the app will increase the cost.
Examples: Photo-sharing application, taxi or food delivery application.
Type 3. High complexity: feature-rich and large-scale applications
Basically, the companies create a custom development without integrations or they use custom integrations with existing systems.
The complex apps are legacy or custom applications, that’s why it usually leads to higher development costs.
The total cost to develop the app can go way beyond how much you might expect.
Here’s how the development cost of this kind of app changes:
- Data Synchronization with more than two devices
- Native features
- Online streaming
- In-App Calls
- Video Chats
With such applications, not only the development work is highly complex but research and planning of the mobile app development cost estimate are also equally intricate.
The creation of dashboards and visualizations, development platform complexity, number of servers, databases, all require various infrastructure elements. Not to mention the high availability and redundancy requirements.
These may require heavy customizations; the developers have to write the code for the majority of functions.
It is difficult to determine the scope of an app project and decide how much it costs, especially before entering into lengthy meetings.
Examples are enterprise applications, CRM applications, gaming apps, trading platforms.
Factor 2. The Complexity of the Application Design
Moving on with how much does it cost to develop an app, we have entered the app design stage..
The design stage is an integral part of the development stage.
You cannot separate the two to decide on the cost to develop the app.
Designing is much like the development part; just as you add more features and cost rises, pro-rata. (Read more about the price of app design.)
Similarly, with designing, if you decide to use the templates, the cost estimate will be restrictive but more customizations in the design mean higher costs and more time.
There are a few things that we need to look at here as well.
Point 1. User Experience
UX is about how the application works. UX involves creating the screens on paper or a designing platform.
Ultimately, it also helps decide how much it costs to develop a mobile app.
The goal is to make the application easy to use for the end-user.
Creating that kind of experience, understanding the market, the user, your goals, and objectives is essential.
The cost of launching a mobile app will fluctuate on the engagement levels and intricate design.
- Button Placement
- Color Psychology
- Following the user’s eye pattern
Point 2. User Interface and Visuals
There are a lot of the ins and outs of application design. However, it begins from UI or how the application will look to the viewer.
Depending on the use of different visual elements, you can estimate the cost. In fact, it influences the cost of MVP design as well.
Better design not only means a better outlook.
Designing an application follows creating the mockups that allow getting a visual hint of the solution.
Here too, the design will depend on your goals.
What do you require from your enterprise app?
Furthermore, what kind of application you are developing will also play a role in app development costs.
- Basic app
- Social networking
Different types of applications require different design solutions.
At SpdLoad, we put an equal emphasis on the design and development to find the optimal cost to develop and app.
Point 3. Branding
What does come into your mind when you think of:
All organizations have a brand value.
Their icons and their names stand out from a crowd of thousands of similar brands.
Why? Because they have invested in branding.
Now when you are developing a mobile app, you may not care to market your brand because of how much it costs.
Branding is a part of your business model.
So, there is no doubt about whether or not to include branding in the application development process.
However, the final cost you need to build an app will depend on branding; that is why you must keep it nominal in the beginning.
After capturing the market to some extent, you can think about scaling branding efforts.
- Creating an Icon
- Marketing Efforts
Point 4. UX Writing
When you develop an app for a user, add copywriting to the total cost.
A creative copy must compel users to engage and interact more with your solution.
The fusion of good copy and impactful design is vital for an app’s success.
However, when it comes to the cost, you cannot ignore that a good copy needs good money.
To know how much does it cost to have an app made, ask your developer to choose a copywriter first.
Or, if you want to hire one by yourself, include the price into the final tally.
Here too, you can select from a huge pool of writers globally.
Choose a writer that shows nativity and cost-effectiveness.
In comparison, selecting a writer from a native English-speaking country will cost more.
Examples are texts in:
- Landing Page
Factor 3. The Platform on Which the App Will Run
After knowing how much it costs to develop the app by considering complexity and design, we move on to the platform.
You need to decide between two things:
Option 1. Develop Hybrid or Cross-Platform App
Hybrid here implies that the application will either run on Android or iOS devices.
In the discovery phase, which we adhere to at Spdload for deciding how much an app costs, this question is primary.
Before boiling down to one platform, take three things into considerations:
- Market Share
- Device Fragmentation
All these depend on the market you are going to target initially.
It is helpful to find out the cost of iOS app development by knowing the market. You need to know where iOS is more prevalent than Android, The same theory relates to Android devices.
The development process for both platforms is different, but not how much it will cost you to develop an app.
Cross-platform applications get the benefit of easy-fit, smooth operation, and they can use the platform-specific features.
This helps create a better experience and lowers the “how much cost” answer of an app.
The cost to develop a native app is more than the hybrid one. And this is for obvious reasons. You require double human resources and effort to build two apps at the same time.
Option 2. Develop a Native App
In contrast to a hybrid app, a native application runs only on a single platform: Android or iOS.
Thus, if you want to build an app for both Android and iOS using native frameworks, you’ll need to hire 2 particular development teams.
One to create an Android version, and another one to create an iOS version.
You get the idea, right?
Since you will need to employ different people for different platforms, the cost will certainly double.
The question that you might ask is how much an iPhone or an Android app costs.
The answer is that the cost is the same to build an app on iOS and Android.
Although the technologies, SDK, databases, frameworks, and quality assessment systems are different for both, the price is the same.
Another integral part of the guide on how much an app will cost is a hidden cost.
Hidden App Development Costs You Need to Know
A few additional costs add to the final answer of how much it costs to develop an effective app:
- Functional costs as fees for third-party integrations. For example, SMS or push notifications, geolocation, or payment gateways.
- Admin or management costs. For example, content manager salary.
- Infrastructural costs. The payment for server, CDN, and integrations like Redis.
- Support charges. Additional costs to update an application, fix bugs, or make future improvements.
Let’s look at the details. For example, it cost $75,000 to develop the app.
- Depending on the number and load of integrations, they can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per year.
- Maintaining the application would cost 20% per year of the original development cost, i.e. $15,000
App marketing would cost 50%-100% per year of the original development cost, i.e. $75,000-$150,000.
Your Options When It Comes to App Development
The final point to consider in how much does it cost to make an app is a team you choose.
The assumption that the kind of development one chooses does not matter is not valid one.
On the contrary, choosing the right team has several benefits. One of them is lower costs and higher quality.
As a startup, your budget is low, but the need for a unique product is imperative.
So, if you want to get the best bang for your bucks, choose the team wisely.
Here’s some expert guidance that will help you decide how much an app costs.
The choice of a team will significantly influence how much it does cost to make an app.
Pro Tip: Always keep three things in mind when you are hiring developers for your solution:
- Focus on the Product
- Don’t mess with the design
- Constant Marketing
Here is the description of each option in more detail.
Option #1: Hire a local agency
You can always choose a trusted medium-sized local company that provides a list of services, including SEO optimization.
|Cost||To develop an app, the development cost by the local companies will be higher. |
There is no doubt about that.
Depending on the country you are starting your startup in, the per-hour rates of a development team and a design team can range between $150 to $250 per hour per specialist.
So, if the total work is for 400 hours and taking an average rate of $100, you are looking to spend $80,000.
That is the app development cost breakdown.
|Pros and Cons||No doubt, if you hire a local agency, you can maintain constant communication. |
Plus, you will get expert quality and the possibility to make changes easily.
Lastly, a local team will be responsible and accountable for their work.
However, the cost factor of these teams is over the charts.
If you can and are ready to spend $40,000 on the product in one go, be our guest.
But this cost is bereft of the maintenance, edits, copywriting, discovery, and market analysis.
|Should you go for it?||Once you run a cost-benefit analysis, you will understand that it is not worth it.|
For more complicated projects there is another option.
Option #2: Build an in-house team
An in-house app development team is mostly suitable for small companies where a full-time IT department can handle both support and development of internal information systems.
|Cost||If you are someone who wants complete transparency, communication, and a trustworthy solution, hire your in-house team. |
However, if you would ask how much does it cost to develop an app by an in-house team, the answer is quite shocking.
Here, the cost is even higher than contracting the work to a local agency. (You can compare the salaries using our calculator.)
However, if the developers will work for equity from the very start, a founder could save the budget. So, the in-house team and maintenance costs twice as much as the local agency – $40,000.
|Pros and Cons||One of the greatest things about hiring a team is the constant flow of ideas. |
The communication is super smooth, and everybody on the team will be fully involved.
In this, however, everything comes on your shoulders.
The quality, responsibility, budget, and employee welfare are in your hands.
You are looking at a significant amount of extra app cost, how much can you afford?
|Should you go for it?||As a startup founder, hiring a team also includes getting space to accommodate them. |
If not, you may have to set up a system for the server and other infrastructure.
Therefore, if you do not want to get a shocking answer to how much a mobile app development costs, it is best to leave it for now.
If you have decided to create an app, but you have a limited budget, then you can hire freelancers.
Option #3: Work with freelancers
If you need to quickly test a hypothesis or do a small project, you can work with freelancers. If you choose this option, take in mind that you will need to spend a lot of time communicating with contractors and managing the project.
|Cost||There are two ways you can go ahead with a freelancer. |
Plus, there are plenty of platforms to find freelancers.
Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Toptal, and so on.
The average hourly price of a freelancer again depends on the country you are hiring from.
These are the starting rates, and they can climb as per the experience.
So, to figure out the cost to build a useful and excellent app, consider the hours.
|Pros and Cons||Let’s face it; freelancing is one of the cheapest methods of creating a solution. |
With freelancing, you have the power to dictate the prices and still get a quality product.
However, with freelancers, you can throw accountability out of the window.
They can quickly leave the job and leave you hanging.
Hence, here the question is not how much does it cost for a freelancer to make an app, but will the freelancer see it through?
|Should you go for it?||Hiring a freelancer is not a problem. |
But ensuring that the freelancer helps you till the end of the product development and adheres to your requirement can become an issue.
So, we would not recommend going the freelancing way until and unless you have the time and energy to monitor them continually.
If your project requires more staff and specialists working on the project, the availability of high-quality software, and experience in promoting apps, then you need an outsource app development project.
Option #4: Outsource app development
If you have a large-scale and complex project with many stages and are ready to spend money on app development, it is easier and more efficient to hire an outsourcing development company.
|Cost||Countries like Ukraine, China, and other Asian destinations provide adept development and designing teams. |
They ensure a high-quality product and creativity.
It all boils down to the cost of developing an app that differs from country to country.
In Ukraine, for instance, you will get access to a development agency at as low as $30/hour.
They are not freelancers, nor are they companies charging predatory pricing and app maintenance costs.
|Pros and Cons||Outsourcing is a good option to build an MVP for your startup at a reasonable price and low risks. |
Getting your hands on an excellent agency in another country will get you a multitude of benefits:
So, besides the relatively low mobile app development price required to build an app, you are also getting access to an innovative product.
|Should you go for it?||Absolutely! |
Outsourcing app development to an agency will certainly reduce the development cost of the app.
However, before you choose an agency, make sure to leave no stone unturned.
Check everything and talk to the team.
In general, the cost of outsourcing mobile application development by the outsourcing company can vary greatly from $ 30,000 to $ 50,000.
As mentioned above, it greatly depends on the operating system, minimum viable product, features, type of app, UX/UI design, tools, software, and other factors.
When it comes to the mobile app development process, you have to go through a lot of things, including
- project management,
- business analysis,
- development process, front-end and back-end,
- UI / UX design,
- app testing, optimization,
- and often app maintenance.
So, it’s better to be sure about the company you choose.
What to Pay Attention to When Choosing an App Development Company? [Checklist]
There are many IT outsourcing companies offering different services. But how to find a reliable partner capable of delivering high-quality products?
First of all, it’s better to conduct in-depth research regarding the IT companies and make sure they meet the requirements of your product.
Here are some tips that can help you in choosing an IT company that can fulfill your project requirements and create an app you need:
Tip #1: Decide on the requirements for your application
You need to decide on the requirements for your application, the number of funds allocated for its development, the desired development timeline, as well as the platforms to run it.
It is also a plus if you get to know about the main popular technologies for mobile application development – it will help you to understand more clearly what type of application you need to develop.
It will greatly help while choosing the mobile app development company, as you can look for an expert in your type of application.
Tip #2: Try to choose full-service companies
Choosing among the software development companies that have already made a name and have an impressive portfolio for services, you can be sure that you can get qualified specialists.
Such a company will be able to provide you with all the necessary resources at every stage of creating an application, such as design, development, or testing, so you do not have to look for additional help or services anywhere else.
Tip #3: Interview the developers personally
Once you’ve found an app development agency that’s right for you, take the time to ask the development team some important questions.
Ask them for their experience in developing applications, tell them briefly about your app ideas, and ask them to provide their opinion on your project.
Such a conversation will help you understand how the app developers of this company find your idea and are ready to implement it.
Tip #4: Research the company’s portfolio
Ask the company representatives to name some of the best apps they have created, and thoroughly scrutinize them.
Think about whether you like the design of these apps, whether you find them functional and user-friendly.
It is also important to remember that one of the main factors for the success of an application is its uniqueness. Do you see anything special about the apps of this company, or do they seem ordinary?
Tip #5: Learn about the company’s privacy and data security policy
It is very important to discuss the security and privacy of your mobile application and the data associated with your business.
Developers should be prepared to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with you to ensure that your information is protected.
In addition, it’s better to discuss intellectual property rights in advance. These and other aspects of ensuring the protection of personal data must be discussed before starting work on a project.
Now Over to You
Our sole focus is to create a market-ready product for you at the best possible price.
We relate to success, progress, and scalability.
We aim for the success, progress, and scalability of your product.
SpdLoad is a leader in application development, and our “how much an app cost” exercise is meticulous and efficient.
That is to say, if you want to build a successful app at a low cost, contact us to learn how we can help.
Here you’ll find a summary of our in-depth guide. Learn the highlights of what to look for when estimating the cost of developing the app.