How Much Does it Cost to Create a Mobile App?

7 mins read

Building an app for mobile phones is no less than building a brick-and-mortar store, technically speaking.

Both have a platform or a foundation upon which they work, a design or theme that resonates with their purpose, easy-to-access check-in and check-out options, an intuitive pathway or navigation for visitors and customers, plus a lot of common features that correspond with each other.

The only difference is the pace at which a digital app can be built compared to a physical store or structure. Nevertheless, when you look into the scope or complexity of a mobile app, the more it is, the longer it takes to design and develop.

For instance, a highly complex or advanced app may take up to a year or so for it to be fully built for real-time use which is pretty much the same for building a building from the ground up given today’s technological advancements.

Speaking of it, it takes a lot of labor too to make a mobile app in the first place. Albeit, non-physical as opposed to physical labor, it does count if you ask your mobile app developers.

Many other factors can change or alter the cost of creating a mobile app which we shall get familiar with in this post. But first, let’s take a look at the average cost!

Average Mobile App Development Cost

The average cost of building a mobile app may vary depending on its type, usage, features, and overall complexity.

In general, a simple mobile app with basic features or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) functionality will cost you anywhere between $5,000-$50,000.

A medium or moderately complex app with certain sophisticated features may cost you upwards of $50,000 to up to $150,000.

A highly complex app on the other hand costs between $100,000-$300,000 or more depending on the level of personalization and the number of advanced features among other factors.

As far as the cost of hiring a mobile application development firm is concerned, it revolves somewhere around $100,000 every year depending on the type of post-launch maintenance.

Keeping that in mind, now let’s find out the development costs of some of the most popular mobile apps globally.

Popular Global Apps and Their Development Cost

While there are millions of apps in the App Store and Google Play Store, both individually as well as collectively, some have made a rather significant impact on the app industry.

These are:

  • Uber (popular ride-sharing app) - $30,000-$100,000.
  • Snapchat (Social Media/Messenger) - $45,000-$100,000.
  • Netflix (Video media streaming) - $25,000-$200,000.
  • WhatsApp (Instant Messaging) - $30,000-$70,000.
  • Twitter (Free social networking) - $50,000-$500,000.
  • Coursera (e-learning/ online education) - $60,00-$120,000.
  • TikTok (Instant video-sharing) - $60,000-$100,000.
  • Holafly (e-sim app for travel) - $30,000-$300,000.

As you can see, there is no specific amount that we can set as the cost of developing a mobile app as it depends on several factors.

Simply put, the more complex or heavy the app, the more it will cost for development as well as its later ongoing maintenance.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Mobile App Development

Typically, there are 6 key factors that can affect the overall cost of developing a mobile app, give or take.

In the chronological order of an app development process, they appear as follows:

1. Type of the mobile app platform

First things first, i.e. choosing the platform for which you want to build a mobile app. Is it Android or iOS?

Now, depending on the device, whether it is native Android, iOS, or cross-platform, the pricing may also differ. Here’s a quick rundown of the costs of some of the most common platforms used for making a mobile app:

  • Android - $50,000-$500,000.
  • iOS - $75,000-$500,000.
  • Hybrid - $10,000 to $150,000.
  • Cross-platform - $25,000 to $60,000.
  • Web - $15,000 to $50,000.

2. Complexity of the app

The complexity of the app is yet another factor that affects the cost.

As I said earlier, the average cost of building-

  • a basic app with basic MVP features is $5,000-$50,000.
  • a slightly complex app with some advanced features will cost $50,000 to $150,000.
  • & a highly complex app with multiple platforms-compatibility and advanced features will cost upwards of $100,000 on any given day.

3. Features and functionalities

This is what defines an app’s usability and relevance in the long term in the growing digital space.

Things such as login options, profile management, messaging, alerts and notifications, and basic administration may cost between $500 to $5,000 on average.

Whereas, advanced features such as mapping, calling, and online payment options may range between $2,500 to $15,000.

In short, the more advanced a feature, the higher the cost.

4. Type or category of the app

Similarly, the type of app you want can also have a significant impact on the total cost of development.

Assuming that you want to build an app for both Android and iPhone users, the cost of different types of apps would be:

  • $50,000-$500,000 for social media apps such as Facebook or Instagram.
  • $30,000-$500,000 for e-commerce or shopping apps like Amazon or Shopify.
  • $10,000-$500,000 or more for gaming apps such as PuBG or Candy Crush.
  • $25,000-$250,000 for education or e-learning apps such as Coursera and Udemy.
  • $50,000-$250,000 for healthcare/ fitness apps like Medscape and MyFitnessPal.
  • $25,000-$300,000 for travel & hospitality apps such as TripAdvisor and Google Maps.
  • $25,000-$250,000 for productivity apps like Trello or Asana.
  • $50,000-$300,000 for on-demand apps like Uber or Lyft.

5. Size and location of mobile app developers

Next up, we have the cost of hiring a mobile app development firm for the job. This largely depends on the region of service or location, the scale of the project, the number of designers and technicians, as well as the technologies used in building the app.

To give you a rough estimate, the cost of mobile app development services in US is somewhere about $120-$150 per hour.

6. App maintenance

Last but not least, is the ongoing maintenance, updates, and real-time bug-fixing part of the app that goes on forever.

Calculated at 20% of the overall cost of app development, it is something that you’ll be liable to pay every year depending on your initial contract or the maintenance plan.

Apart from these basic factors, there are certain hidden costs associated with the process of mobile app development as well.

Hidden Factors Affecting Mobile App Development Cost

There are many hidden costs associated with mobile app development which may not be as apparent as the above basic factors.

These are:

1. The cost of backend infrastructure such as data storage, management, delivery, and hosting.

2. Integration of third-party softwares or services such as APIs, payment gateways, social media, AI, and so on.

3. Security features such as two-step authentication, encryption, and user-verification.

4. App Store fee for publishing your app on Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store.

5. Support and maintenance costs of monitoring, troubleshooting, and updating the app.

6. Targeted Ads and paid marketing to reach a larger audience base.

Sounds overwhelming? Or maybe even out of your budget?

Well, don’t worry!

There are plenty of ways to get the overall cost of app development down.

How Can You Reduce Your Mobile App Development Costs?

While the cost of developing a mobile app may sound expensive, there are always ways or strategies that you can use to reduce it.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Choose a cross-platform like React Native or Flutter to build an app as it allows you to reuse a single code across multiple platforms thus saving a remarkable 10-30% of your budget.
  • Go with a minimalist style or a simple design MVP app starting out instead of including all the major features into you mobile app at once.
  • Opt for third-party softwares instead of creating original solutions for every problem or functionality that needs to be figured out.
  • Build for scalable growth without having to worry about adding extra features or handling more users.
  • Only support the latest versions of operating systems and mobile devices to cut short on the total expenditure. I mean, nobody likes to keep an outdated version of a software or app on their phone.
  • Hire a single but experienced mobile app development firm for the design, development, and later maintenance of the product.

In any case, do not compromise with the quality of the app just to save a few bucks as a cool and useful app would give you more return than ever.


Q 1. How much does it cost to make an app?

Ans: From simple to complex to highly advanced, $5,000 to $300,000 and more.

Q 2. How much does it cost to maintain an app?

Ans: Up to 50% of the total cost of app development for the first year of launch, and somewhere between 15-20% annually from the second year onwards.

Q 3. How long does it take to build an app?

Ans: A simple app may take up to 3 months; whereas, a complex one could take about 9 months or more depending on its complexity and scope.

Q 4. What are the factors that affect the overall app development costs?

Ans: The type of app and platform, complexity, features and functionality, size and location of the app development team, and the app’s maintenance are some of the major factors that can affect the overall cost of mobile app development.

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