Mobile App Development | 24-Oct-19

How much does it cost to build an app?

Writen By Sumit Bedi

Founder & CEO @Appknit

Cost to build an app

How much does it cost to build an app is normally the first question that clients ask after giving a brief about their idea.

The combination of Low Development Cost and High Quality is something that everyone looking to develop a Mobile app hopes to achieve. This is more of possibility in Eastern Countries like India, with $25 – $80/hour Range as compared to the Western Nations which have a chargeof $100 – $350 / hour. 

Cost to Build an App – The Formula

Formula of Cost to build an app

The answer to how much does it cost for mobile app development depends on the calculation of the number of hours it would take for every single step of the development process and multiplying it to the billable hours of resources.

Factors that decide the cost to build an App:

App Discovery

Before the team start preparing for the mobile app development and much before the rough estimate of cost to build an app is shared with your clients, the app idea is confirmed. There are various methods for app development companies apply to validate the idea, such as looking at the competitors, analyzing the user persona, and checking the marketing capitalization.

  • Market Research

From looking for the devices that the app’s user work on to analyzing the features they love to use and leave in the apps falling in the same category as the client’s. The major part of this stage is made of competitor analysis as well.

  • User Personas

The analysis of user personas is fundamental as many factors such as App size, App UI/UX, features, etc. varies from one user demographics to other, which gives its study on mobile app development cost breakdown structure.

The time taken for app discovery is 40 – 80 hours.

App Cost Factor Analysis

Analysis and Scoping

The most important part in determining the cost to build an app is scoping the work. This includes the identifying features the app would have and the technology stack. The major thing to determine in the scope of the project is the app complexity. The meaning of app complexity lies in the number of features it includes and about hundreds of various cost impacting features.

The app complexity is dependent on Backend and Front end Architecture, a number of features in the Admin Panel to control the app.
When it comes to backend development, there are two options – Custom or BaaS. In Custom, clients get their architecture while in BaaS, they get a readymade backend architecture. Custom Backed gives feature flexibility but is complex to implement and hence, costs extra.

Admin Panel helps to manage the app-keep track of the activity, view stats and update the content without the need of involving developers. Now, we can either have basic backend or data-rich analytics-driven Admin Panel. With each type of data point captured in Admin Panel, the time to develop the admin panel increases and hence, the cost to build an app also increases.

The app complexity is also dependent on the number of 3rd party libraries an app has to interact with. Though 3rd party libraries ease the process of development they also introduce long term risks in the system which need to be managed.

Hence, all these factors need to be accounted for to estimate the cost of the app. Thus, depending on the App complexity, a rough cost estimate can be taken like this:

Simple Apps – up to 600-900 hrs

Mid-level apps – up to 900-1600 hrs

Complex apps – more than 1600 hrs       

App category

When you ask how much does it cost to build an app, the answer to your curious question is it varies greatly from type to type. Moving from one category to another, a lot of things change like security, functionalities, the number of users, etc. that leads to varying cost to develop your app. Simple apps like a clock or calendar will cost less but a complex app like Facebook will cost alot

Stand Alone Apps – Cost somewhere around 600-900 hrs

Social networking apps – cost around 1800-2500 hrs

eCommerce Apps – costs around 2000 and above hrs

On-Demand Apps like Uber – 2000 and above hrs

App Design & Animation

cost to design a app is also part of cost of the app

“People ignore design that ignores people.”

The design is a significant factor that adds the answer to how much does it cost for mobile app development. The app design makes the user invest their valuable time in your app. when you decide on the app design, Custom and standard UI are the two options. Customized UI are difficult to design and implement than the standard UI that makes it more expensive. 

The app design cost varies from 150 hrs to 400 hours for a complex one.

App Platform

Target OS for the app affects the cost to build an app

The direct answer to how much does it cost to build an app is also dependent on app platform and the number of OS versions

  • Native Apps (Android and iOS)

Android is an expensive one as there are several devices with different OS version involved. Something that is barely ever an issue in iOS as the app development happens on objective C and swift. You can read through our guide of Android vs iOS to choose the right platform for your app.

  • Hybrid app development

The app developed for both Android and iOS comes with a single code use and less development effort. This might lower the initial cost of development by 15% but we don’t recommend the use of Cross-Platform Technology for the long term. You can read a technology comparison of Native vs Hybrid apps here and decide for yourself.

App Deployment

The developed app needs to adhere to the specific guidelines of both the play store and app store. When you submit an Android app on the play store, the one-time payment fee of $25 should be paid. On the other hand, Apple charges $99 per year.

App maintenance

The cost to build an app does not come to an end. Businesses will have to continue modifying their apps to keep up with the changing market trend and new OS versions, that comes with a cost. Your apps need an update, bug fixes, and design changes, which are calculated yearly at the valuation of 25% of the total mobile app development cost.

Code Reuse

The primary factor that brings the cost slashing down is code reuse. If you decide to reuse the code of an existing app and just change the branding elements, the mobile app development cost becomes much less up to 20-30% lesser than the cost of an app that is coded from scratch. That is where mobile app development companies come in to be very cost-effective.


“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” …

Depending on the team who is developing your mobile app, whether an individual, freelancer, or big corporations, the cost to make an app would vary.

It costs around $450,000 – $1,500,000 for large app development companies with a team size of cost 3000+ developers

The apps developed by mid-cap app development agencies cost $50,000 – $2,00,000 with a team size of 500-1000 developers

mobile app development company structure

Small and Growing Companies with a team size of 10-50 developers costs around $2000 – $40,000.


The location plays a significant role in deciding the cost to build an app. From the west to the east, the cost for app development changes drastically.

Here are per hour cost range of different countries.

cost to build an app per country

How Do We Estimate Your App Development Cost

After understanding your requirements and expectations, we create a scope of work document for the app. Once, you approve the scope of work, we create a detailed proposal for you with all the costs associated to build your app.

So there you have it. The answer to How much does it Cost to Build an App. You can also read our guide on how long does it take to build an app to estimate the cost?

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