Agile or Waterfall: Which is the Right Mobile App Development Approach?

Agile or Waterfall: Which is the Right Mobile App Development Approach?

By Shivam Srivastava
November 13, 2017 2. min read
Last update on: January 7, 2020

When it comes to mobile app development, the way you approach an app idea has a great impact on how the outcome would be. As you might be familiar with, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ development process that every app development company should follow. A wide range of development methodologies are existing in the market, chosen as per the features and requirements of the app, and the direction of the workflow it demands. However, the two popular methodologies that are typically dictating the market are Waterfall and Agile, about which we are going to discuss in this blog.

Waterfall Mobile App Development Approach

Waterfall methodology is the traditional, sequential approach to mobile application development. In this process, the project is divided into different phases (initiation, analysis, design, development, testing, and deployment), and a strict set of guidelines is followed in a sequential order.
waterfall mobile app development
As its name depicts, the progress is observed as flowing steadily downwards. That means you cannot proceed to the next phase without completing the existing one. This traditional app development technique has various advantages and disadvantages, as described below:

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

  • Due to its static nature and predictable workflow, it is much easier to get an estimate of cost and time span involved.
  • As each phase has a clear initial point and requirement review, the mobile app developers have to complete all the tasks associated with a phase before proceeding to the next phase. This means you can easily get the app at a stipulated deadline.
  • Waterfall procedure involves documentation, making it easier to follow the logic of the past projects and lay the foundation for the future projects.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology

  • The biggest drawback of Waterfall development strategy is that you cannot return to the previous phase until the whole life cycle gets completed.
  • Testing is done at the end, and so there is a lesser chance of getting a fully-functional, bug-free mobile application.
  • Even a minor change in the app means beginning from the scratch, which ultimately adds to the cost, time and efforts.
  • The customers won’t be able to get a glimpse of the mobile app until the coding phase is started.
  • Without a working prototype, the users might not be able to figure out what exactly they want. Since the requirement gathering is the first step of waterfall app development approach, this results in the risk of missing a crucial detail. In short, the overall scope of the project can not be determined.

Agile Mobile Application Development Approach

Agile methodology is an iterative, rapid application development approach that involves a more ‘time-boxed’, team-based, sprint action style. According to the top mobile app development companies, this strategy emphasizes on being lean and creating minimum viable products (MVPs) over a desired period of time while enhancing each particular iteration.

ALSO READ: MVP- The First Step Towards Ensuring the Success of the App

The different phases of app development cycle can take place in parallel, with a track of expected features and requirements. Thus, teamwork, continuous improvement, constant feedback and the adaptability to changes are the key highlights of the Agile development strategy.
agile mobile app development
According to our development team, following are the benefits and drawbacks of this mobile app development approach:

Benefits of Agile Strategy

  • Agile methodology emphasizes on frequent communication and teamwork, which maintains the workflow and enables in delivering the result-oriented app.
  • Testing is done at the end of each phase which means an earlier encounter with the bugs and mitigating them. At last, you get a high-quality app with the agile process.
  • The application goes into the hands of the users much earlier, even before the launch. This is helpful to determine their response towards the app and therefore, reduces the chances of building an app nobody wants to try even.
  • The short application development cycles increase the flexibility of the process. You can easily add, remove or update any feature at any point of the development cycle or even when the app is already in the market.

Limitations of Agile Strategy

  • As Agile strategy focuses on active team involvement and face-to-face interactions, it is necessary that the whole team is committed to the project (and better in the same physical space). Otherwise, the project will take longer time than estimated.
  • This technique prefers working software over a detailed-documentation. This is good to some extent, however, the agile app developers have to maintain the right balance between code and documentation.
  • Since the Agile methodology is associated with frequent reprioritization, the product might not get delivered within the pre-decided time frame, unless the mobile app development companies you are working with have strong experience with the methodology.


Now, as you have a comprehensive knowledge of both the prevalent application development methodologies, we hope you find it easier to find the right approach for your app needs and build a mobile app successfully. For any additional information, you can take the help from this mobile app development guide made by our experts.

At Appinventiv, we prefer Agile methodology for mobile app development as it allows you to test your idea even when you don’t have much information about the scope of your project, or don’t have the clear picture of the end goal. We have a complete team of proficient and experienced developers who put their best efforts in delivering on-time services. With this approach, we ensure that you get a mobile app that brings a huge traction on your brand and empowers you to enjoy success in the uncertain app world.

Shivam Srivastava
Shivam Srivastava
Marcom Manager
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