How Much Does it Cost to Make an App?

Spoiler: Want to know what your app idea will cost? Use our Mobile App Cost Calculator

The Short Answer

  • Simple apps typically cost less than $37,500
  • Medium apps typically cost between $100,000 – $150,000
  • Complex apps typically cost above $500,000

Source: Clutch

Hourly Cost of Mobile App Developer

  • Low Cost App Developer: $85-$105 per hour
  • Mid Cost App Developer: $105-$125 per hour
  • High Cost App Developer: $125-$175 per hour
  • Very High Cost App Developer: $175-$300 per hour

Now Let’s Dive Into How Much it Costs to Make an App

mobile app development cost
Many businesses are interested in mobile app development, especially enterprises. But the planning and budgeting for such an investment often present challenges for developing a mobile app efficiently.

Organizations often struggle to control the scope of mobile apps, which is typically dependent upon a number of key decisions. The overall complexity of the app will determine its total development time in addition to its features and capabilities.

Development time, in turn, will directly affect mobile app development costs. The delivery model is also an important factor to consider when estimating the total cost of mobile app development.

Variables That Impact Mobile App Development Costs

Many variables can affect the cost of mobile app development. Some of the most significant include the following:

  • Back-end integration
  • Graphics
  • Platform
  • Features

Back-end Integration

Back End Integration

An app with a back-end infrastructure is more expensive because it requires developers with expertise in additional areas such as Data Tables and Data Architecture.

Some organizations require a native app with custom databases and APIs, which often have no documentation.

A back-end also requires user management in most cases, including the addition, modification, and deletion of user accounts as well as password changes. Some apps with a back-end also need to be completely integrated with a website.

Graphics

Mobile App Design

Graphic design elements can dramatically increase an app’s cost. These elements include 3D graphics, animations, and visual transitions, often running at the same time.

Developers who write graphics-heavy apps must have a combination of technical and artistic skills, which increases their market value.

Furthermore, the companies who hire these developers must also invest in the infrastructure needed to support graphics development. As with other areas of app development, customized graphics will increase the cost.

Platform

Android vs iOS Development

Android and iOS are currently the most common platforms for mobile app development. Appmuse reports that an Android app costs 30% more than an iPhone app to develop, primarily because Android apps require more time.

Developing a native app for each platform will also cost more since each platform will require a separate team, which will generally work separately from the others.

Features

An app’s development cost is directly affected by its features, such as buttons, fields and screens. In addition to the code needed to create these screen elements, they also require code to provide the necessary functionality. New technology such as wearables will also require supporting, which requires code to support it.

How Design Impacts Mobile App Development Costs

An app’s design can contribute significantly to its cost, but it’s usually well worth the investment. Good design can greatly improve the user experience, which can directly improve the app’s return on investment (ROI).

A screenshot of a well-designed app can also encourage viewers to download and use the app. A web designer will probably charge less to design a mobile app, but a mobile app designer is likely to have a better understanding of space restrictions and user flow.

Bluecloud Solutions reports that the cost of a base-level design for the iPhone 5 typically ranges from $500 to $10,000, which includes screen images with a resolution of 640×1136 pixels.

Tip: You should name the image files according to the developer’s naming conventions before sending the files to the developer. This procedure can help save development time.

Compatibility with iPhone 6 Plus costs about 25% more than the base-level design, primarily due to the increased resolution of 2208×1242 pixels. iPad compatibility costs 50% more than the base cost, assuming a similar layout and user flow.

However, the iPad often requires the designer to create additional functionality to accommodate for the iPad’s greater size and speed.

Other Factors That Affect Mobile App Development Cost

Complexity

An app’s complexity directly affects the amount of programming needed to develop the app. Developers will typically roll the design into the entire project, rather than attempting to apply the design images one at a time.

However, some designers will use XML and online database to build a complex app dynamically. The complexity level of a mobile app can be classified as low, medium and high. This level may then be used to calculate a range for the development cost.

We encourage you to download these apps to get a feel for their level of complexity.

Low Complexity:

Low Complexity Mobile App

A simple app is typically based on tables. You can lower the development cost by providing developers with the complete content, examples and clear directions.

In many cases, you can also supply all the graphics for the app if you have a working knowledge of Photoshop. Features such as GPS locators and social media integration will cost extra at this complexity level.

Medium Complexity:

Medium Complexity App

A basic database app typically has medium complexity, assuming you provide all content. Data drives this type of app, so most of the work will be on the front end.

The primary factor that determines the development cost of a database app is the code needed to create the logic and usability. In the simplest cases, the code can be written directly from the content.

High Complexity:

High Complexity Apps

A complex app, like many games, are the most difficult to estimate. Even the simplest games need to track top scores and integrate with an online community, which requires a significant amount of code.

Video games have heavy requirements for 3D graphics and sound, which require complex calculations. Racing games that use a gyroscope are particularly expensive to code.

However, games also tend to have higher ROIs than other apps, since they’re usually downloaded in greater numbers.

Developer Costs

Clutch provides time estimates of about 250 hours for simple apps, 1,000 hours for medium apps and 5,000 for complex apps. The hourly rate for mobile app developers is in the range of $100 to $150 per hour. These figures provide a cost estimate of $25,000 to $37,500 for developing a simple app, $100,000 to $150,000 for a medium app, and $500,000 to $750,000 for a complex app.

Delivery Model

The cost of delivering an app to customers is also part of an app’s total cost. Delivery models include the following:

  • Software Development Kits (SDKs)
  • Sharing
  • Game center
  • In-app purchase

SDKs

SDKs can be highly effective in tracking apps and monetizing them. You can generally get an app integrated into an SDK for a relatively low cost, although it becomes more expensive as you get more specific with your selections.

The cost of using SDKs such as AdMob, Applovin, Chartboost, Google Analytics, Tapjoy and Xplode to distribute an app is between $50 and $200.

Share Capabilities

Sharing methods of distributing an app typically include social media and email, although other integrations such as WordPress are also possible.

These platforms usually have robust APIs and many options to customize distribution. The price range for sharing methods is in the range of $500 to $1,500.

Game Center

Game Center

Integrating an app with Apple’s Games Center is generally easy, provided you follow the rules carefully. The initial cost for adding an app to Game Center is about $1,000. Apple also keeps 30% of each sale and charges $99 per year to list an app on Game Center.

In-App Purchasing

mobile App with In App Purchasing

In-app purchasing allows users to buy full versions of apps and new content for existing apps. Cost factors include the price of the app and whether the entire content is available in a single app. The cost of in-app purchasing is between $1,000 and $3,000.

Now that you know how much it costs to make a mobile app, do you think you are ready?

The development costs for every mobile app will be different – even apps that are identical could vary in cost based on resources available, a timeline to launch and more. Take our survey to see if you’re ready. We’ll grade your responses and give you a score to determine how ready YOU are for a mobile application development project.

Take our Survey to see if you’re ready for an application

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