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Mobile App Development Pricing/ Costing: A Detailed Guide on How Much You Should Spend in 2020

aalphaindia profile image Pawan Pawar ・13 min read

In this guide, you’ll learn how much it’ll cost you to develop a mobile app.

All mobile apps are not created equal. Some will cost a few thousand dollars to develop, while others will eat deep into your company’s budget.

What do you get when you spend $1,000 for an app compared to $100,000, or somewhere in between to launch your app idea? (we’ll come to this later on)

Let’s Summarize, App Development Cost is Influenced by:
Type of App – Native, Hybrid, Mobile Game, Social Networking, etc.
Platform – Android, Windows, or/and iOS.
Features
Design – Basic, Individual, or Custom
Number of Pages
Infrastructure
Overall, mobile apps aren’t cheap. A simple app will cost anywhere between $5,000 – $50,000, while complex apps will cost you $100,000 – $300,000+.

So you have to plan accordingly before investing your money. Besides, you don’t want to fall victim to app agencies and developers who don’t care about your business.

But don’t get me wrong, although you can’t expect to build a great app for cheap, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your life’s fortune either.

Here’s a quick analogy you might relate to.

Investing a fortune on real estate properties won’t make you a professional realtor if you don’t have the expertise and experience. You need to know what you’re doing to succeed.

Here’s another way to look at it: Marketing your mobile app is really important.

Developing a great app is just one step of the process, but that will not make it an automatic hit if you don’t know how to get downloads.

Average Costs to Develop an App (Hourly Rates Worldwide)
Region

Android $Per/ Hour

iOS $Per/ Hour

North America

$168

$150

Australia

$110

$110

Uinted Kingdom

$90

$110

South America

$30

$35

Eastern Europe

$35

$35
India

$20
$25

Indonasia

$22

$25

What type of Mobile App you want?
Sometimes, you can estimate the cost of developing a mobile app by asking questions.

However, a more practical approach is to know what type of app you want to develop. That’s exactly what we’re discussing in this section.

1). Native Apps

Native apps are common because they’re heavy apps that provide the best user experience. They’re quite easy to optimize and monetize, and changes can be deployed real quick.

When designing this app, developers might utilize various device’s APIs and integrate a wide variety of features simultaneously.

What impacts the cost of native apps develops on the platforms you want to support, since many experienced developers will be involved in developing the app.

Most successful business apps, education apps, and entertainment apps are natively-developed and can be downloaded from popular app stores.

2). Hybrid Apps

As the name implies, hybrid apps are cross-platform apps. They’re designed for a large audience.

They’re less expensive to develop and maintain compared to native apps, especially if there’s a team and a single code that’s compatible with all platforms.

native-hybrid comparison

When it comes to optimization, though, hybrid apps aren’t as flexible as native apps because they lack access to APIs. They’re also unable to offer the native user experience.

Small and mid-size businesses develop this type of apps (e.g., lifestyle apps, communication apps, game apps)

3). Basic Functionality Apps

These basic functionality apps use simple frameworks and wireframes. So they’re pretty easy to develop because they don’t come with a ton of features.

These apps are great for personal use. Oftentimes, these apps aren’t in any app store.

The majority of them are developed to do a specific task (e.g., display a list of topics). That’s all.

4). Device-based Apps

These apps rely heavily on device firmware/hardware.

If you want your application to gain access to mobile devices to enhance its functionality, this app should come to mind.

I’m sure you have apps on your mobile phones that improve the camera, an alarm clock, a calculator, a screen display, or any other function.

As an example, you can use AlarmMom to customize your phone’s alarm clock, and even add extra features.

5). Mobile games/Game apps

You can decide to develop a simple or advanced game app. Most gaming apps are very sophisticated — with 3D graphics and physics, social media integration, global ratings, AR support, even AI.

As you’d expect, the more complex your game idea, the more costly. Gaming apps fall into one of the most popular categories of application globally. They’re usually very profitable.

For example, Angry Birds costs about $140,000 to develop and generated $70 million in the first year.

angry bird game cost

Who is building your App?
When you’re ready to bring your app idea to the limelight, there are basically three different types of developers you can work with. You could hire:

A freelance app developer or an independent contractor (e.g., from Upwork)
a small app development team
App development agencies and big corporations
As you can see, the pricing structure will vary depending on who you hire to develop your app. And there are good reasons to consider.

For example, working with a freelance app developer can be the cheapest option. If you have between $5,000 – $10,000, you can definitely find an independent contractor who’s willing to develop your app.

On the flip side, a freelancer may not be the best option for your business.

Bear in mind that working with a team of developers or big corporations with proven track record and credibility will charge more. Most times, though, you’d be satisfied with the app.

If you choose to work with a team of developers, there’s a chance you’ll get your app launched on time but you may have to pay more.

Large development teams and big corporations charge much higher prices (upwards of $100,000) for app services, because they have the system, resources, and experienced team that will handle your project.

They also have a large portfolio of apps they have done in different verticals.

Note: There are freelancers and independent contractors who can hoard information about apps they’ve developed that didn’t pan out well. So keep that in mind!

Remember that if you have a budget of $1,000 to $10,000 for app development, you might have to find a developer and discuss your ideas with them.

More importantly, the complexity of your app will affect the overall cost, regardless of whether a freelance, a small team, or a big app agency handles your project.

the cost to develop app

If you’re looking to hire an app agency with a proven track record and lots of successfully completed apps, get in touch with Aalpha.

How will Users Signup for your App
This is an important section. When we take on new clients, we want to know how users will sign up for their app.

In other words, are users going to sign up before using the services provided by the app? If your app is going to store financial data, you may want to use two-step authentication.

Don’t ask for contact information right off the bat, and remember that long sign-ups may likely irritate a percentage of your users.

Features

Cost

Discription

A simple sign-up feature (email address and password)

Cost $1,000 - $2,000

Users can log in with their email address and password. They can restore the password in case they forget. Also supports guest mode login.

Login automatically through Facebook & Twitter

Cost $2,500 - $3,300

Log in with Facebook or Twitter, also with a guest mode.
Login via two-factor authorization and verification

Cost $3,500 - $4,000
Typical login in addition to unique codes automatically sent to the user's phone for additional authentication.

How long does an App take to Create: Time and Average Cost
First, not all apps take months to create. The platform your app is developed for also affects how long your app is created and made available to users.

Certain app features and the number of users your app can accommodate matters. So let’s consider the time frame based on these factors.

Most basic applications only require simple functionality. This type of mobile app takes approximately 500 – 700 hours on development.
A medium complexity mobile app can take up to 700 to 1,000 hours to create and launch.
While a complex and advanced app usually takes 1,200 – 1,500 hours to develop and deploy.
Mobile App Cost Estimate: In-depth Breakdown by Features
Feature

Discription

Approx. Time

Avg. cost with backend functionality (based on $50/hour)

Map

Detect user's location

Search on the map

Set pickup point on the map

70 - 111 hours

$3,700 - $5,450

Payment

View balance

See transactions

Add PayPal, Card

69 - 80 hours

$3,200 - 3,950

Calls

Audio calls

Video calls

View Contacts

250 - 370 hours

$12,800 - $18,370

Streaming

Start/stop broadcast

See broadcast

Easily switch broadcasts

80 - 140 hours

$4,000 - $7,000

5 Steps to Estimate the Cost of Mobile App Development
Follow these five steps to quickly estimate how much you should spend to develop your app.

Step #1: Get a quote from a mobile app development team

This is the easiest way to get an idea of what you should budget for your app.

It may not give the best solution, but at least, you know where to begin. Just ask for a quote from a mobile app development team.

Step #2: Choose your mobile platforms

How many platforms do you want to develop your app for? Is it going to be for Android or iOS, or both platforms? Developers need to have an idea to send a cost estimation.

Step #3: Choose your app functionality

What do you want your app to accomplish? You need to have a list of 3 – 5 core functionalities you need on your app. With this, developers can gauge what type of app you need.

Step #4: Focus on MVP: Prioritize mobile app features

This is a no-brainier. All features may not be necessary at the early stages of your app. Hence, you should ask developers to prioritize the core features for MVP Development. Eventually, you’ll add other features as your app gets deployed.

Step #5: Ask for an estimate of your app’s main features

There are must-have features your app can’t do without. These should be implemented first, and your mobile app developers should be able to educate you on this.

You can speak with an expert at Aalpha to ask any questions.

We have dedicated project managers, experienced developers, designers, quality assurance, business analysts, etc.

What Affects Mobile Application Costs?
Mobile applications can be simple or complex projects.

Regardless of the type of app you need, your app development company or team will likely not lay out the total costs from the get-go.

After a virtual or face-to-face meeting, your discussions will further impact how much you’ll eventually pay for the app.

Of course, the mobile app development team will estimate how many hours are required to implement your specifications, and you’ll receive a bill or quote. Yet, the most obvious factors impacting average development costs are:

App features and functionality
Platforms
App administration and infrastructure
Visual design
App maintenance cost
Size of the development team
Location (local or international developers)
Average Cost of Mobile App Development: Agency Survey By Clutch
To give you a better idea of the average cost of developing a mobile app, let’s dive into recent studies.

Clutch recently surveyed over 100 mobile app development companies to determine what it costs to build a mobile app.

The survey shows that over 70% of app development companies invest in the discovery stage before diving into the development phase.

In this discovery stage, most of the companies surveyed spent $5,000.

According to the survey, a percentage of the app development companies say they spend $10,000 on average on app testing and deployment. App maintenance costs $10,000 on average each year, and most project size ranges from $5,000 – $10,000.

clutch app development costs

Mobile App Development Process
The process of mobile app development can be daunting, to say the least.

It requires a lot of planning, brainstorming, sketching, approving concepts, etc.

So let’s go through the entire process of going from an app idea to a fully-functional mobile app that users can download, install, and enjoy.

Knowing what the App Requires
This is a critical pre-development phase. You can’t take shortcuts on this because it can mar your project. And app developers know that the app requirements must be written down — it’s not a guesswork.

At Aalpha, we spend adequate time and effort to listen to our clients and understand their requirements.

We also explore the possibilities and opportunities with their app and make sure their brand isn’t left behind.

Yes, everything matters!

We want to help the client achieve their goal, so our project managers, developers, designers, and administrators discuss the project with the client.

If required, our team can meet with the client anywhere they are to gain the first-hand experience with the brand and services.

Exploring Platforms
At this stage, we like to explore platforms for your app. Why? Because we understand there’s a big difference between developing an app for a startup or an established company.

Oftentimes, startups have their audience and know the platform they prefer. However, most startups ask us for our expert advice and suggestions.

It makes sense to define who the target audience is, their behaviors, and what needs they have.

Once that’s sorted, we can choose between Android and iOS or make it a cross-platform app to suit every platform.

App Development Stage
This is where our developers get busy. Regardless of the size of your app, our developers work hard; putting in infinite hours to make your mobile app a reality.

But there’s more. When an app is being developed, the client needs to stay updated about the project. So that’s the job of project managers, to keep the client up-to-date.

Of course, the client can make suggestions and give feedback. The project manager receives it, transfers it to the development team and the suggestions are incorporated into the app.

In case of any reservations, then the concerns are briefed upon so we can discuss it.

Aalpha ensures that everything goes smoothly, deadlines are met, and the client isn’t left in the dark throughout the life of the project.

Testing the App
You should get a functional and flawless mobile app if you work with a trusted team of developers.

Testing the app is important to ensure it’s working as planned. Each feature of the app is tested to avoid any bugs and technical issues after launch.

Designing your Mobile App (The Process)
Developing a mobile app is quite different from its design. The former deals with the backend codes and functionalities, while app design deals with the front end and visuals.

So, let’s dive into the process.

1). Visual Design

app visual design

Visual design is what the client mostly sees and understands.

Although the backend is what controls the functionalities and features, it’s the visual appeal that makes the app pleasant and beautiful.

Businesses want their mobile apps to show interactive experiences. It’s the new expectation. So the visual design process is critical — don’t take it lightly!

2). UX Design

User experience is the hallmark of any mobile app. If users aren’t satisfied, what’s the point of developing the app in the first place.

UX is how the app works, coupled with the visual concept and how it utilizes data and studies user behavior to deliver stellar results.

The results may include successful onboarding or user engagement.

3). Branding

Branded mobile apps always outperform odd-looking apps. Essentially, you want to make sure that your app can be recognized in the app store.

Your app icon, logo, theme, and color must be in sync with each other. Branding is the real deal.

In the words of Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine:

“A brand is the single most important investment one can make in the business.”

For example, do you recognize the Apple company whenever you see the logo? Of course, this explains the importance of logo design and icon.

While an icon gives your app an identity and makes it easy to recognize on the app store, it’s your logo that gets people to download your app.

4). Mobile App Copy Writing

Words sell. Copywriters charge a premium for writing sales pages because their expertise can double or triple the sales overnight.

You need an irresistible copy to create engagement with your app. The right copy will make your app relatable and increase its chances of going viral.

Because convincing one person to use your app can have a multiplier effect — which can lead to social shares, media mentions, etc.

More importantly, your copy should showcase the advantages of your app and inspire users to use distinctive features of your app.

Estimating the cost of copy, logo, and icon, you should expect to pay on average $100 – $3,000, depending upon the quality.

Visual design and UX design costs more: between $5,000 – $10,000.

At Aalpha, we can provide a pro design team that will handle your copy, UX design, and general branding.

Supporting Devices (What Devices will your App Support?)
When a client requests additional devices, then it will require extra design and development time. It also makes sense to integrate with other smart products.

Device

Cost

Description

Smart Phone

Extra 0%

Examples of smartphone devices are LG and iPhone

Tablet

Extra 5%

Examples: Samsung Galaxy Tab or iPad

Smart Watch

Extra 5%

An example: iWatch

How much do Popular Apps Cost to Develop? (Summary)
To give you an idea of what some popular apps cost to develop, I found some amazing numbers.

These enviable startups got funding in a seed round to invest in robust app developments and web platforms.

If you’re a small business or you’re on a tighter budget, these examples shouldn’t scare you at all, get inspired by them. Then get a more reasonable quote from a development team — Aalpha can help.

Let’s see how much each of them raised:

Snapchat: One of the most popular social media networks that raised $485,000 back in 2012, which is tiny compared to the total funding of over $3 billion.
Uber: This ride-hailing app received $200,000 in seed funding for bringing their ideas to life.
Postmates: This powerful company raised $750,000 in the seed round.
Instagram: The number #1 photo-sharing app that received $500,000 in seed funding to develop their app further.
Takeaway: A Breakdown of Mobile App Development Cost
When you hire an app development company like Aalpha for your project, most of the additional costs will be waived.

However, if you’re a startup or an early-stage firm, it’s still important to consider those costs to truly evaluate what it’d likely cost to bring an app to market.

There you have it, the complete breakdown of mobile app development cost. If you’ve read this guide so far, you understand that there are many factors and variables to consider.

Mobile app development costs vary. More so, businesses’ needs differ. And this boils down to how they’re going to use the mobile app, and for what purpose it’ll serve.
Originally written at https://www.aalpha.net/blog/mobile-app-development-pricing-costing-a-detailed-guide-on-how-much-you-should-spend/

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aalphaindia profile

Pawan Pawar

@aalphaindia

I am founder of Aalpha Systems, 16 years of tech experience, I love writing on latest tech trends AI, ML, Blockchain etc

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