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With almost half of the world's population now owning smartphones, it's clear that mobile apps play a significant role in our daily lives. If you're an established business or enterprise venturing into the tech space, chances are you're considering building your own mobile app. Naturally, the question “how much does it cost to make a mobile app?” will arise, and that's where we come in as your expert IT software partner.
Determining the exact cost of creating a mobile app is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Each app is unique and tailored to meet specific objectives.
For instance, developing a food-delivery app for the UAE market is an entirely different endeavor than creating a real estate app for the U.S. market. As such, the processes involved and the associated development costs vary accordingly, with potential gaps of up to $200,000.
But fret not, we understand the importance of planning your budget. Instead of trying to predict precise numbers, we’ll name the factors that influence mobile app development costs.
In this article, we'll guide you through the app development process, providing insights on how to calculate the cost of creating a mobile app for your business. We'll delve into what's included in the mobile app development cost and explore optimization strategies to ensure your investment delivers the best possible return.
So, whether you're seeking to enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, or tap into new markets, after reading this article, you will make more informed decisions in your mobile app development journey.
Let's get started!
What Affects App Development Cost?
Think of mobile app development as building a house. There are some default things like the foundation, walls, windows, etc. And optional such as a fireplace, garden near the house. The more you want, the more you pay. The material's quality and complexity also matter.
The same with app development cost. There are a few key factors that go into estimating the mobile app development cost:
- Number of platforms
- Technical complexity
- Number of features
- Custom Design
- Location of Development Company
Let's focus on each aspect.
Number of platforms
First, if you choose between the iOS or Android platform for your app, there's no significant cost difference. What is critical here? If you need both, only then the app development cost will rise.
These platforms take over different programming languages, have different SDKs, and use different development tools. It also means that you need a separate team for each platform, and the average cost of app development is doubled.
At first glance, the app is a simple and beautiful tool that solves peoples' problems. But behind the scenes, it's tons of raw data turned into the logical flow, intuitive design, and useful features. And this is what I mean by technical complexity.
If you need an MVP or prototype to test the idea quickly, we will not build a rocket. We'll create an app with basic functionality that helps you check key hypotheses and solves the most crucial pains.
The cost of building a mobile app with basic complexity will be nearly $45K.
In another case, if you want to build a compound app like Slack, we propose a more complex solution. We don't believe in templates and adapt to each client and his/her goals.
But complex solutions demand more investments, and a mobile app with more integrations, features, complex infrastructure, and app logic will cost you approximately $120-150K.
Number of Features
Though I put it in the 3rd place, the number of features is what helps you find the answer to the question: 'How much does it cost to build an app?'. Features implemented, as well as technical complexity, are the most significant cost drivers in app development.
By features, I mean all user roles, screens, buttons, and pages.
The thing here is that the implementation of some features can be significantly lengthy, while others are relatively short. It means each feature affects the final cost of creating an app and the timeline. Here's a list of the most common app features, the implementation time needed, and the approximate cost.
So we're moving forward, and the next deed that can add dollars to your check is design. From my experience, astonishing design is what most clients want to stand out with. The times when poorly designed but working app can be accepted by people have gone. Today investors won't consider your product idea if they don't like how it's designed.
App design consists of UI and UX components. Being the two sides of the same coin, UX and UI refer to different aspects of design development.
UX design stands for “user experience.” It’s all about researching, testing how an individual interacts with an app, and making the product useful and enjoyable. UX Designer is a separate role in app development, so take it into account while estimating the cost of making an app.
UI design is everything you see on the app interface, including icons, spacing, typography, color schemes, etc. All the illustrations and animations also count as the UI design. It is usually pricey to create a custom UI design.
The more advanced and time-consuming design is, the higher the app development cost will be. The cheaper variant suggests using standard and template elements. The quantity of screens is a determining factor too.
Location of Development Company
If you're new to app development or lack the human resources to launch a new app – outsourcing app development could be the way to go. It'll definitely help you cut costs and reach top talents. But mobile app development rates are different in different countries. For example, hiring a Developer from Canada will cost you nearly $160, while in Ukraine, it'd be $60. So choosing an outsourcing partner is like drafting a sports team. You need the best player for the best price.
In the table below, you can see that Eastern Europe, and in Uptech's case – Ukraine – is the best go-to when it comes to the value vs price ratio.
Mobile App Development Cost: Development Phase Breakdown
Outsourcing mobile app development isn’t an unbreakable process. You can come with a ready solution but want to improve app design only. Or you have product expertise in-house but lack tech people and need to outsource only programmers.
As many apps, as many cases.
That’s why understanding the breakdown of the various development phases is crucial for estimating mobile app development costs effectively.
Let's explore the cost of each development phase, the specialists involved, along with their hourly rates, and provide an overview of the average price of mobile app development.
Product Discovery Phase Cost
This stage is focused on understanding your business goals, target audience, and app requirements. Here’s a team of people who collaborate to gather insights and define the app's scope involved in Product Discovery:
- Product Designer
- Product Manager
- Software Architect
The average timeline is 3-6 weeks. The average hourly rate for specialists in this phase at Uptech is $30-60.
The cost of the discovery phase of a project, on average, ranges from $12,000 to $20,000.
UX/UI Design Phase
As I mentioned, user experience and user interface design are vital for creating an intuitive and visually appealing app. UX designers focus on wireframes and prototypes, while UI designers handle the aesthetics and branding.
A separate specialist is responsible for each phase. The average cost of a UX/UI specialist is $50/hour. Let’s try to calculate the cost of a medium complexity app design that takes 2 - 2,5 months to complete.
So the cost of UX/UI design services will cost you approximately $13K for a medium-complexity app.
Keep in mind that some professionals may work part-time at the end of the project, or if you have a Business Analyst/Product Manager on your side, the price may be lower.
Software Development Phase
As you know, the complexity of the app and the platforms it targets (iOS, Android, or both) influence the cost. The development team comprises front-end and back-end developers. The hourly rates for IT specialists at Uptech are around:
- Front-end Developer: $30 - $60 per hour
- Back-end Developer: $30 - $60 per hour
Average cost for Development Phase: $30,000 - $70,000
Note, the cost may differ depending on your specific requirements. These are just the approximate and general numbers based on our experience.
Quality Assurance (QA) Phase
Ensuring the app is bug-free and performs optimally is the role of QA testers. They rigorously test the app on various devices and scenarios. The hourly rates for QA testers are approximately:
- QA Tester: $30 - $50 per hour
So the average cost for QA Phase: $6,000 - $10,000
How to Calculate Mobile App Development Cost?
Let's say you have an idea to build a social app. I broke it down into app features you need and calculated the approximate cost. Check it out.
- Log in – $5000
- In-app onboarding – $4000
- Home page with content – $6000
- User profile – $6000
- Chat – $5000
- Reviews & Likes - $5000
- Search – $4000
- Content filters – $4000
- App settings – $4000
- Content creation (uploading photos, videos) – $5500
- Video player and photo viewer – $4800
- Notifications, alerts – $4000
- Design – $15000
The final sum will be: $72,300.
Average Mobile App Development Cost
I mentioned it before and repeated it one more time, each app is unique, and the cost varies depending on each ingredient you put in your app.
The more user roles, screens, logic your app demands, the higher the average price will be. Below, I gathered the most realistic but still average app development cost by app type.
How to Reduce Mobile App Development Cost?
Well, $72K can exceed the budget. The good news is that it's not a verdict. There are always options to cut the final cost of developing an app. Here are two tips from me:
- Cut the features set. In the case of the eCommerce app, you can skip user profiles in the first stages. Implement only the necessary features and test the key hypotheses. That's ok to add the rest in the next app version.
- Use template solutions. Instead of custom illustrations and buttons, use UI kits. They cut the designer's resources and the final app development cost as a result.
It's easy to get inspired by the idea, but what helps you turn it into reality is – a clear mind and good preparations. Calculating the approximate mobile app development cost is a part of that preparation. If you're afraid to do something wrong, drop us a line. We'll be happy to hear about your project, help you with estimations, and collaborate.
"It's easy to get inspired by the idea, but what helps you turn it into reality is – clear mind and good preparations."
How Much Does it Cost to Build Mobile App With Uptech?
Before signing the contract with a client, we, of course, make a cost estimation. This is how it looks:
- First, we talk a lot with a client about the product and ask the following:
What should the product look like?
Do you have the design references for the product?
Are there any features that should be in the app?
- Then, we make our own market research, and our team came up with a list of product features;
- Our Solution Architect proposes the best technical solution for the app;
- Our Product Designer prepares mockups of the app;
- Our Business Development Manager thinks of the team size and approximate time estimation of the project based on the information above.
We all know that there are always details affecting the final price of a mobile app, and unexpected things may happen. That’s why we make 3 scenarios: negative, positive, and neutral. Having all these at hand, you feel more confident about the decision, and we’re fully transparent and open with you.
It seems like a lot of work to do. And it's so, but it helps us ensure that the resulting app matches your requirements and, more importantly, is completed within your budget.
To bring you closer to real life, here’s how it works in practice. Usually, the team involved in the app development consists of Product Managers, Developers, Designers, and QA Engineers. The average cost of each specialist is $50/hour.
So, if you want to build a medium complexity app that takes 4 - 5 months to complete, the approximate cost would be $70,000 - 120,000.
I tried to give a detailed answer to the question: 'How much does it cost to develop an app?' The key thing is that developing a mobile app is a complicated process, and its cost differs depending on the components and professionals involved. Understanding the essential and optional components of the app and the team structure behind the company you'll be hiring will increase your chances of building a savvy yet great product that fits the budget.
If you still have doubts about how much your app idea will cost, drop us a line. We’ll make a rough estimate according to your requirements and the idea description. It could be the beginning of an exciting collaboration!