What is the cost of building a mobile app in 2023? This is probably the first question that businesses have in mind once they decide they need an app to boost growth. While there are a lot of intricacies involved in the process, it is helpful to at least know the approximate app-building cost to budget effectively.
Here’s the ultimate guide to help you understand the app development cost and the factors influencing the figure.
The Cost of Building a Mobile App in 2023
While app usage is growing and businesses are working on innovative app ideas to attract consumers, the development cost is a vital consideration. The approximate cost to build a mobile app in 2023 is $20,000 to $200,000.
However, it’s not that you cannot build an Android, iOS, or hybrid app for less than $20,000 or the cost won’t exceed $200,000. This is only an approximate range and there are several factors that’ll impact the final figure. You can consider discussing your app idea with a leading app development company for a more accurate approximation.
So, what are the factors that influence the cost of developing an app? Well, there are many different ways to go about it, including the development phases, features and functionality, app type, maintenance, etc. To make things easier, we’ll have a detailed look at each of these aspects.
App Development Budget Per Phase
Design and Development Costs
This is the initial phase where the developers design the app and its user interface according to your business objectives. As this is the stage when the app is actually coded and developed, it has the highest cost, ranging from 50%-60% of the total app building cost.
The development cost varies significantly between app platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows. You can either consider Android app development to build a native app that can be used on a single platform or a hybrid app that can be used across mobile platforms.
Generally, native apps are more expensive to develop than hybrid apps. Alternatively, you can also consider building a cross-platform or web app. Here’s an approximate cost of app development on various platforms-
Platform Average App Building Cost Hybrid Apps $20,000-$150,000 Native App $50,000-$200,000 Cross Platform App $25,000-$75,000 Web App $15,000-$60,000
Testing and Quality Assurance Cost
Once the app is ready, it must go through rigorous testing to eliminate the bugs and errors that could impact the user experience once the app is launched. While this definitely increases the mobile app development costs, it is a necessary expense to ensure you launch a good quality bug-free app.
App Store Fees
You’ll mostly launch your app via an app store as it can provide your app the much-needed exposure and accessibility. However, this costs money too. Whether it is Android Play Store or Apple App Store, they charge a fee to add your app to their stores. For instance, Google charges a one-time registration fee of $25 and then a percentage-based fee on all digital purchases through the app.
App Maintenance and Updates
Developing a mobile app is not a one-time investment. Even after the app is developed and launched, you need to invest in its maintenance. It is through regular maintenance that developers correct faults and improve the app’s performance further. Then there will be updates through which you’ll keep adding more features to the app and improve its usability.
Cost of Making an App Based on Feature Set
The most integral and significant cost to build an app is its designing and development phase. And it abundantly varies depending on the features you want in your app. Take a look-
Optimizing UI for Tablets
Do you know why a lot of apps are not available for tablet devices? Because it involves an additional cost. Tablets have larger displays compared to smartphones and thus, the app needs to be optimized for larger displays. While apps that are not optimized for tablets can often be downloaded on a tablet, the user experience is not up to the mark.
So, if you also want to target tablet users with your app, its UI should be optimized for the same. This can increase the development budget by up to 50%.
OS and Smartphone Model Compatibility
The cost to build a mobile app is also influenced by the OS and phone models your app supports. The development cost can be up to 100% higher if you want your app to support older operating systems and mobile devices.
However, most companies don’t optimize their apps for outdated OS and phone models due to their small market size.
Portrait & Landscape Mode
Hold a smartphone vertically like it is supposed to be and the app will be displayed in portrait mode. Flip the phone horizontally and it is now in landscape mode. However, most apps don’t come with a landscape mode as it involves additional optimization.
If the landscape mode improves the functionality of your app, you can consider adding this feature. However, this will increase the overall app budget by 20%-30%.
Modern mobile apps are simply incomplete without push notifications. According to a research, push notifications can help boost app engagement by up to 88%.
Thus, it makes a lot of sense to add the push notification feature to your mobile app. But this will increase the app development cost by up to $1,500.
The app will need cache algorithms to work offline. Then there’s also the option to make the app sync user data across multiple devices.
While both of these features can enhance the user experience, they’ll require an additional investment of around $10,000.
Social Login & User Profile
If you want to provide your users with the option to create their profile in the app, the feature can cost somewhere around $2,000.
You might have also seen several apps with a social login feature. You can integrate this feature into your app but it’ll increase the app development cost by $500 per social platform.
If you’re looking for ways to monetize your app, mobile ads can be a great option. You can choose from various mobile ad platforms like Google AdMob, MoPub, Facebook, etc.
You can get your app equipped with an SDK (Software Development Kit) for mobile ads for $1500-$2000.
The chat feature can help make your app more engaging and encourage users to spend more time using the app.
To add this feature, you can either use a 3rd party chat SDK or get one developed exclusively for your app. A 3rd party SDK should not cost more than $2,500. But if you want to get a custom module developed, it can cost as much as $10,000.
Usage Tracking and App Analytics
Like web analytics, there’s also mobile analytics. The insights offered by mobile analytics platforms such as Google and Flurry can be valuable in refining the app further.
There are many ways to track app usage and the basic tracking functionality can cost $2,000 approximately.
Payment, QR, Navigation, and Other Integrations
When approximating the cost to build an app, you cannot overlook features like navigation, QR scanning, payments, etc., as users now expect these features from an app.
Each of these features can cost $2,000-$2,500.
Intelligent Product Feedback
Collecting feedback and providing users with an instant solution to their queries are features critical to your app’s success.
There are solutions like Apptentive, UserVoice, Qualaroo, and Instabug that you can consider for this intelligent product feedback feature. Most of these solutions have user-based pricing plans.
Cost of App Development by Type
As mentioned in the beginning, the cost of building a mobile app can range from $20,000 to $200,000 or even more. Apart from the features, another aspect that significantly impacts the app development cost is the type of app.
Let’s take a look at some popular types of apps with their approximate development costs-
|Type of Mobile App||Development Cost|
|Basic Mobile App||$20,000 to $200,000|
|Android App||$50,000 to $200,000|
|iOS App||$60,000 to $250,000|
|Hybrid App||$40,000 to $200,000|
|Startup App||$40,000 to $300,000|
|Gaming App||$60,000 to $250,000|
|eCommerce App||$60,000 to $250,000|
|Video Streaming App||$80,000 to $300,000|
|Social Media App||$50,000 to $300,000|
|Restaurant App||$30,000 to $150,000|
What are the Different App Development Options?
Once you’ve finalized a few app ideas and have some understanding of the features you’ll need, the next vital consideration is who will develop the app. Right from budget to app quality, the team you choose will considerably impact the overall app development project.
Here are the options you can consider-
Work with a Local App Development Agency
A local app development company with extensive experience can be an ideal choice to build a simple app. The biggest advantage of using a local agency is regular communication. You can stay in the loop and provide regular inputs to ensure the final outcome is exactly as per your expectations.
But a significant downside is the development cost, especially if you’re located in countries like the USA or UK as the per-hour rate of specialists here is considerably higher than compared to many other countries like India. If the hourly rate of an app developer is $49 in the USA and the approximate development time is 500 hours, you’ll be spending $24,500 on development alone.
Hire an In-house Team
If you’re developing a complex app, hiring an in-house team is worth consideration. As the team will be working from your office, you can always be on top of the overall development process. However, in-house teams are more expensive than local app development agencies as you’ll be paying a salary plus other benefits to every team member.
To give you an idea, the average base salary of a mobile application developer in the US is $101,854 per year and it rises significantly for specialists. If you’re a startup, you can offer the in-house team or at least the specialists some equity to reduce the hiring costs.
Smaller app development projects can also be handled by freelancers. You can either hire them on an hourly basis or a contractual basis depending on your requirement. And there are several online platforms like UpWork, Freelancer, Fiverr, etc., where you can easily hire freelance app developers.
The lower cost of developing an app with freelancers is probably why many startups consider this option. However, the budget will vary depending on the location of the freelancers. While a freelance app developer from the US might charge $30-$50 per hour, the same from a country like India can range from $15-$20. Also, finding reliable freelancers who won’t leave the project in between is easier said than done.
Outsourcing Mobile App Development
Currently, the most popular choice to get a mobile app developed is through outsourcing the app development project to a company located in a country where the development costs are lower. It proves cheaper than local agencies and hiring an in-house team and you don’t have to deal with the inconsistency of freelancers.
For instance, you can hire a reputable mobile app development agency from a country like India to build a high-quality app within your budget. Compared to an agency in the US, the cost of app development through an agency in a country like India can be up to 50% lower or in the range of $20-$30 per hour. But ensure you only choose a trustworthy agency with extensive experience.
Mobile App Maintenance Cost
The answer to “How much it costs to create an app?” would be incomplete if we don’t talk about the maintenance costs. As mentioned above, there’s an ongoing cost of building an app.
All the backend data of your mobile app will be hosted on the web and you’ll need a hosting provider for the same. Apps with a lot of media will require a web server with a higher CPU. The hosting costs will be lower if the app is mostly text-based.
Some hosting providers you can consider are Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon AWS. The monthly hosting fee can range from $50 to $300.
User Acquisition Cost
Over a given period of time, the amount of money you spend for every new app user is known as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). According to recent reports, the average CAC for Android and iOS is around $1.75 in the US.
However, for more granular app actions, like app purchases (avg. $86.61), the CAC is considerably higher.
You’ll also need an app monitoring service to ensure the app runs as expected. There are plenty of app analytics solutions such as data.ai, Measure Protocol, mFilterIt, OneSignal, etc., that you can consider for the same.
As the monitoring needs and audience of every app are different, you’ll get a better estimate by discussing your requirements with these solution providers.
The cost to build an app should also include the license fee if any. If your app is using complex technologies licensed by someone, you’ll have to pay a license fee.
Depending on the technology and how many devices are using it, the license fee can be as high as $100,000 for 50-100 devices.
You’ll also want the app developer to continue refining the app further and add new features to keep the users engaged.
This will involve an additional app update fee depending on the frequency of updates and app complexity.
Building a Mobile App in 2023
As can be seen, there is no single answer to how much it costs to create an app in 2023. But the information above should provide you with excellent insights on this topic.
If you’re still struggling to get an estimate of the app building cost, the best option is to get in touch with a reputed app development company. Based on your requirements, the app development experts can offer a more accurate estimate of the development costs.
How Long Does It Take to Develop a Mobile App?
The time spent on building a mobile app from scratch will depend on factors like app complexity, type, features, etc. A basic app with limited features can take up to 6 months.
How to Choose the Best App Developer?
Focus on these factors when selecting a mobile app development company-
- Average cost to build a mobile app
- Past work
- Communication skills
- Expertise in the type of app you’re looking for
- Post-launch support
What Should You Choose Between Hybrid and Native Apps?
Both hybrid and native apps have their benefits. You can discuss your requirements, target audience, etc., with a trusted app development agency for their insights on what you should select.
What are the Best Languages for App Development?
Java, C++, Kotlin, Python, Swift, and Rust are some of the leading mobile app development languages. What type of app you’re building and the platform for which it is being built are factors that can help with language selection.
How to Keep the App Idea Protected During the Development Stage?
App development agencies sign a formal NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with their clients to ensure the app idea remains protected throughout the development stage.
Ready to Build a Mobile App?
There you have it. A detailed post on mobile app development cost with a breakup of all the significant expenses. Use this post as a guide in your decision-making process to ensure you can correctly budget your app development project.
For a more accurate approximation, you should consider contacting a reliable app development company and discussing your requirement.