• Mobile App, App Development Cost
Mobile App, App Development Cost
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Mobile App in 2023?
6 minutes
Isen Santos
August 23, 2023

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to develop an app for iOS, Android or for both? There is no single answer that suffices the question.

The market of mobile applications shows no sign of stopping and, naturally, more and more people are researching the issue of how much does it cost to make an app. While we all use apps for communication, games, lifestyle, business, food, sports – creating your own app is a matter of business for some of us.

A lot of factors including the platform on which app is being made, complexity in-app, and the experience of the developers. So first, let’s understand the five variables that affect the app development cost.

1. The Business Model

The journey of developing an app for your business starts from the very core which is the business and revenue generation plans. The revenue or business model is the biggest driving force behind the cost of developing the app.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • The devices that need to be integrated to make the app responsive
  • Free App or Paid
  • The platform preferred by your target customers
  • The product you are trying to sell
  • In-app Purchases
  • The role of visual design in the app’s interface
  • The advertisements – third party or of your own product
  • The Quality assurance testing

These and numerous other factors play a very important role in the cost and time needed to develop the mobile app design.

For instance, the monetization strategy plays a very important role. A paid app is easier to develop that applications that need to integrate in-app purchases. An e-commerce app involves even more time and cost.

When creating the MVP for your app, you’ll also need to keep your long-term goals in mind. Are you developing a simple prototype that will most likely be rewritten later? Will this app be the backbone of your startup? These are all factors to consider before diving into cost estimation.  

2. How Complex is Your App?

One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to answer the question, “how much does it cost to build an app”, is because there are so many different kinds of apps. Though it is virtually impossible to describe all the existing apps on the market, there are three broad categories that outline apps’ complexity:

Apps without web servers

Apps without web servers do not have remote data servers. They often display information on different “lists.” These apps often have dropdown menus (master table) that allow users to select from. Once the user has selected an option, he or she may be presented with a second, more specific list. The user may continue to do so until he or she lands on a page with the desired information.

Some common examples of table functionality apps include diet planners, calendar apps, and email apps. The cost of developing these kinds of apps usually fall somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 per platform using native languages or price of one platform + 10% to 15% if done in Xamarin. Some possible features that could drive up the costs of such apps include geo-location and third-party app integrations (i.e. social media platforms).

Apps with web servers

Unlike the first category, these apps house their data on remote data servers. The data for these apps are relayed between client side and server side. Furthermore, these apps often allow their users to perform searches and input data to produce the desired results. Since connecting apps to remote web servers requires more sophisticated programming and an API, the costs of these apps are higher and could range anywhere from $8,000 to $50,000.

Gaming apps

Though “gaming apps” seem somewhat self explanatory, it is the hardest category to put a price tag on. This category covers simple PONG type functionality all the way up to complex virtual reality games. For example, the developer of Flappy Hen, a clone of Flappybird, a popular game that is no longer available for download, spent around 40-50 hours creating this app. If you multiply 40-50 by $150, the app would cost $6,000-$7,500. However, a racing game that utilizes a gyroscope can easily cost up to $125,000 to create. A broad estimation of gaming apps would be $6,000 - $250,000.

Some other common features that increase technical complexities and drive up the cost of your app include: third-party integrations, admin dashboard, and use of hardware components such as Bluetooth, GPS, barometers etc. Having a clear idea of your scope would get you a more accurate estimate.

3. Who’s Going to Make Your App?

In-house Developers

You can definitely consider hiring in-house developers, designers, and product managers to help develop your app. Alternatively, you could also hire a developer who can play all three roles. However, as global competition increases, hiring a full-time, quality, and jack-of-all-trades developer may be an extremely time consuming (not to mention expensive) process. If you plan to expand your app, you will most likely need to hire a few more developers (i.e. iOS, Android, back-end etc.). However, hiring an app team may be a costly commitment. Take a look at the cost structure for an in-house Scrum team comprising 8 US professionals.

Would it be worth it to hire a full-time team for your MVP?

Would it be a suitable decision to spend weeks or months trying to find the all-star developer for your MVP?

The answers to the questions above largely depend on how much funding you have and what your long-term plan looks like. However, if you don’t have as much funding and under time pressure to produce an MVP, there may be other more suitable options.

Hire an Outsourcing Development Company

Partnering with an outsourcing team is another common solution. Many startups choose outsourcing development companies because they come in a package. When you hire them, you get a team of designers, developers, and project managers. Furthermore, many specialized vendors have significant amount of experiences to help them develop mature development procedures to help their clients out. There are obvious reasons why companies might want to hire an outsourcing firms. They will provide you with new seasoned professionals faster and delivering the product on time. They can charge anywhere between $200/hour and $300/hour. With a mobile outsourcing company you can get you a high level of productivity at reduced costs. Studies show that with outsourcing the savings on overhead costs can be up to 60%.

Regardless who you choose to work with, you will most likely be creating and sharing proprietary information, and should have the proper legal protections in place. The most common way to safeguard trade secrets when working with third parties is the use of a non-disclosure agreement.

Do keep in mind, when it comes to hiring app developers, your cost could differ quite drastically depending on where they are located.

4. Do You Want to Make an iOS, Android App or Both?

Is iOS app development expensive than Android app development? This is a highly debated issue that many disagree on.

The truth is, the cost for developing iOS and Android apps are nearly the same.

However, because there is a wider variety of Android devices and sizes of screen, both the design and the development sides are more complex compared to iOS. What this means is that the time it takes to develop Android apps may be 2 to 3 times longer than that of iOS apps.

Although iOS apps can be built quicker than Android (the difference in time is not that much 10% at best ), the prices are the same or more as iOS developers are few in numbers which means that their rates per hour are usually higher.

On the other hand, if you require both iOS and Android, this is where Xamarin comes in. Xamarin is a cross-platform technology that makes it possible to build native applications for Android and iOS using a single, shared codebase. It allows development teams to spend less time writing code for both platforms versus traditional development of two apps with two different development teams.

Businesses who want to develop advanced, powerful and unique mobile applications should choose this. It is worth for those businesses who want to develop cross-platform mobile apps at an ease. Xamarin helps companies keep their mobile app development costs to the bare minimum.

The usual cost for Xamarin development is the same as one platform native development + 10% (what this percentage mean is the app needs to be tested in two different OS).

For Android apps, cost ranges as follows:

  • Simple to complex apps: $35,000 to $100,000
  • High-tech apps: $75,000 to $150,000
  • ‍Games: $10,000 to $250,000

Estimated costs for iOS apps (for Apple devices) are as follows:

  • Simple to complex apps: $40,000 to $150,000
  • Games: $10,000 to $250,000

The cost of the iOS and Android apps depend on the complexity of the app. Simple apps take approximately 10 weeks to build, with design accounting for up to 90 hours and back-end development up to 800 hours.

Complex apps take around 28 weeks to build. Design would need approximately 370 hours and back-end development up to 2,200 hours.

5. Cost Depending Upon Features in the Application

There can be a plethora of features that can be added to a mobile app. Let us take base hour price as $25 and maximum hour price as $50. Some of the features can be:

Mobile app costing

Final Thoughts

To recap - there are 5 aspects you should consider when you’re determining the cost to build your app:

  • Business model
  • Complexities (type of app, remote data servers integration, third-party integrations etc.)
  • Features (planning, design, features, infrastructure, app admin, testing, deployment)
  • Human resources (i.e. internal app team, outsourcing)
  • Developing for iOS, Android or both

The markets are flooded with umpteen choices of software to build mobile apps for various brands and purposes. However, the key here is to make the right choice so that you come up with a mobile app that is high on end-user experience, cost-efficiency and productivity. In view of these three prime requirements, Xamarin can become your top choice that virtually shortens the learning curve.

Don’t forget, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Believe in yourself and hire top-notch developers to help build your app. Before you do so, be sure you are prepared to hire a developer.

At Starshot Software, we have a team of dedicated software developers who possess a thorough understanding of Xamarin technology in order to create effective Native UI across all major platforms.

We hope to see you in the app arena soon!

Do you want to know more?
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