How Much Does It Cost to Make an App in 2020? (Complete Guide) 

By Prateek Saxena
May 9, 2018 9. min read
Last update on: February 5, 2020

With a substantial increase in the number of mobile users and application downloads, it is evident how important mobility is to our society. By 2021, there will be roughly 7 billion mobile users worldwide, (Source) and by 2022, the annual mobile app downloads are projected to reach 258 billion. 

With the speed of digital transformation, the booming app economy is growing in numbers. Part of the reason why we are witnessing such a dramatic increase in the number of applications is how having a strong mobile presence for businesses has become an imperative for survival. 

As the year draws to a close, if you have been thinking of developing a mobile application for your Startup or business, now is the right time. But before committing to mobile app development, it is essential to be familiar with the mobile landscape as a whole. 

The very first question that comes up when launching a digital startup is the app development cost. 

‘How much money does it charge to create a highly-functional app and then scale it up to a billion-dollar business?’

If you have been thinking about the fee of app development lately, here is a guide that will provide you the answer to how much does it cost to make an app. In this article, we have covered the main drivers of mobile app development values. 

There are many factors that affect the value of app development. The app development cost varies from place to place and the geographical location of the development team is one such factor. 

Cost of Mobile App Development Worldwide

There are thousands of app development companies around the world and the charges of hiring developers varies depending on the geographical location they are based in. 

There are a range of parameters to consider when estimating mobile application development charges. And often the enormous range of parameters like outsourcing or hiring local developers confuse startup founders and even experienced entrepreneurs.

It is not advisable to go by common assumptions such as high price implies a good quality product or new companies aren’t experienced enough to build a robust application. 

Hiring developers from regions such as America and Western Europe is costly than offshore development in developing regions such as Asia.

So, let’s have a look at the cost of app development worldwide: 

Mobile App Development  Cost Worldwide

 

Offshore software development rates in North America range from $50 to $250 an hour while in Southern America the hourly rates vary from $25 to $120.

 App development services in the UK vary from $40 to $175 an hour. 

In Eastern Europe, the outsourcing rates start from $20 and go up to $150 an hour while app development services in India range from $20 to $80 an hour. 

Outsourcing software development has become a popular and efficient solution. If you hire an app development agency based in India you can get the same work done for much lower rates than what you pay in the USA. 

With advanced communication and project management tools at your disposal, you can easily cooperate with developers in any part of the world and feel absolutely no difference between local and remote communication.

 

Here are our insights on which is better for app development- Inhouse or Outsourcing,and if you plan to outsource, here is an extensive guide on How to outsource App Development

Technical Complexity of the Application

Technical complexity is another factor that influences the cost of creating an app. A basic application with simple functionality such as a calculator or a notes app is rather easier to develop than a complex, time-consuming eCommerce or Social media application. 

The more complex the app, the higher is the fee of development. With the increase in technicality, the complexity of the various features and the time required to develop the app increases, contributing to the resulting worth increase. 

In addition, complex applications require more data transfer, which increases server requirements and thus increases the charges.

tech complexity

Choice of Platform and the App Development Approach

If you are going to create a mobile application for your business needs, you will either target Android users, iOS users or both. 

One can’t really answer how much does it cost to make an app unless you decide the choice of platform. Also, the app development approach needs to be factored in at the very start since it significantly impacts the app development amount.

The costs of creating Android and iOS apps vary remarkably. The choice of platform and the app development approach influences the price of building a mobile application. While Apple has a dedicated user base, the perk of building an Android app is the chance to reach a wider range of users. 

Due to the higher level of expertise required, the cost of building an iOS app is higher than an Android app. In addition, the App Store has a stringent set of guidelines that need to be followed before launching the app.

 

Before you fully commit to mobile app development, you also need to understand the kind of application you want to build that would best meet your requirements- whether it is a platform-specific native app or hybrid or cross-platform application.

React Native vs Hybrid

If you want your product to be welcomed by a larger user base, you need to pitch it to both iOS and Android users. This implies designing and developing the same thing for two different platforms. 

That is exactly where React Native comes into the picture. React Native is a framework developed by Facebook to ensure smooth and easy cross-platform mobile app development. It basically implies that there is no need to create an iOS and Android app separately. All you need is a single codebase to develop robust apps for both the platforms without compromising one bit on the UI and UX. 

Whereas, a native app is an application developed for a specific platform, either Android or iOS. Native apps provide an enhanced user experience but the price of mobile app development doubles up if you build separate apps for both the platforms. 

According to a report, cross-platform is projected to grow exponentially from $25.18 billion in 2015 to $80.45 billion in 2020. 

If you still can’t decide what to choose, here’s our guide on React Native Vs Native: What is best for app development

Factors that affect Mobile App Development Cost 

Now that you are aware of the primary parameters that influence the charges to build an app like geographical location, choice of platform and the approach to mobile app development, when you approach a development company, you still cannot expect them to give you the app development price estimate right off the bat. 

So, what really affects mobile application cost? 

The mobile app development cost is determined by a number of factors. Sure, the project team determines how many hours it took them to incorporate your requirements before you receive a bill. But nevertheless, the most important factors affecting the average cost of app development are as follows: 

Factors that affect Mobile App Development Cost

 

Features in the app: 

With next-gen apps leveraging the most modern technology, there is practically no limit to what an application can do. The charge starts at a few hundred dollars and goes as high as the advanced set of features. 

The biggest cost drivers in app development is the functionality and the complexity of the implemented features. 

When you decide what your app is supposed to do, that is the basic functionality, the features that need to accomplish the desired action then come into play. 

The more features you want to introduce to your mobile app, the longer it takes for the developers to build them. Some features are substantially lengthy to implement, while others are fairly easy and simple.

Mentioned below is a table with approximate development time and cost required for basic features.

mobile app basic features development time and cost

 

Here’s a breakdown of mobile app development cost estimate by complex features, time and rates. 

mobile app development cost estimate

 

The average value to create an app largely depends on the features that the application needs to perform seamlessly. During the development process, you may make some unexpected changes, that’s why it’s advisable to weigh these factors and manage the budget with an additional line of expenditures. 

You can significantly reduce the app development price by prioritizing functionality to develop a Minimum viable product for your mobile application.

Visual Complexity:

The first look of an application can be a deal maker or breaker. There is more to good design than merely the look and feel of an app- it is all about the user experience.

User Experience Design is everything. The performance of an application coupled with the functionality and how seamlessly the users navigate, all of it depends on the UX development.

A cluttered app is difficult to understand and will be quickly uninstalled. 

The amount of visual complexity results in increased technical effort from the back-end front-end and the design front. The more you play with your app’s visual features, the more expensive it becomes. 

Backend Development

If you plan to develop a big app for millions of users who will exchange a huge amount of information in real-time, they will definitely want to synchronize their data across platforms and store it in the cloud.

This certainly needs a backend that can withstand enormous loads and work smoothly under any conditions, resulting in more time spent on designing and building a complex architecture of the application.

Backend is basically an OS in mobile application development that provides developers with APIs to exchange data between an application and a database. It is equipped with analytics to monitor user activity and analyze the efficiency of your customer app.

Charges vary depending on the number of parameters you are going to track and how detailed and specific the tracking will be.

Third-Party Integrations 

When factoring the primary features for an app, you also need to consider the cost of integrating the app via APIs with other platforms, such as social media or payment gateways. To ensure users can easily share their favorite products or services with their followers and friends, you should integrate social media with your application. 

In a similar manner, if a user has to perform a transaction in your application, you would need to integrate it with a third-party payment gateway via their API.

The price for platform integration also depends on the platform that you use. 

Structure of the Development Team

As mentioned above, the app development company’s location is a critical factor that influences the final price of the product. The cost of making an app in the UK varies from that of the U.S. and other regions. But the price to create an app also depends on the structure of the development team. 

The core team behind an application includes the following:

structure od dev team

You can always customize the various roles in an offshore or local development team depending on your project requirements. 

Maintenance and Support 

The cooperation between a tech partner and the client doesn’t quite stop after the product is ready. Every app development company offers post-release support. Afterall, Maintenance is a continuous process.

An application will not be able to do what it was designed for without appropriate support. With new technological changes, updates are mandatory to ensure your app runs smoothly.

So, the next defining question is how much does it cost to maintain an app? 

Well, in certain cases, the nearby value of maintaining an app accounts for 15%-20% of the original cost of development. 

Even if you do not plan to add new functionality or scale up your app, enhancing existing features and refining the app is essential. Continuous bug fixing improves stability and performance and regular updates ensure users keep coming for more. 

App Maintenance charge is usually incurred over and above the actual cost of development and is charged as a prepaid annual payment by companies.

So, by now, we have covered all possible drivers of app development price. But to provide you an even better understanding, as a full-cycle app development company, we will breakdown the cost of developing an app by the various stages:

Cost of Full-Cycle App Development

cost fo full cycle dev

Knowing the cost that is generally incurred during a stage gives the idea of what to expect. This 

information helps when you are either looking for full-cycle app development or a-la-carte services. The associated worth varies depending on the stage of development the product is currently in.

So, how much do apps cost to make at Appinventiv?

When you partner with us, we begin by discussing your idea and brief you about our modus operandi. We provide you a rough estimate based on your specifications and the overview of your concept. Depending on the complexity of the project, we determine the estimated number of hours needed to develop the application. 

Once your approval has been received, we move on to a comprehensive project documentation and submit a detailed proposal with cost and timeline.

Here’s the final app development price breakdown as per the various stages of app development- 

cost of devlopment table

callout 4

How to build a mobile app on a budget: 

build mobile app on a budget

If you’re particularly struggling with one question- how much does it cost to create an app on a budget, here’s how you can build a highly functional app and significantly reduce the fee of app development. 

1.  Choose Cross-platform app development 

Building a cross-platform app is considerably less expensive than developing a native app. The app is released simultaneously for both Apple and Android and facilitates successful outreach with lower development costs.

2. Choose the right firm 

Hiring a development agency can be your one-stop solution for all your app development needs. A mobile app outsourcing company is much more efficient and effective and most importantly, organized in terms of handling and managing clients. We provide flexible time schedules and ensure that the price you are paying is worth every cent. 

3. Build a Minimum Viable Product 

The range of functionality that can be implemented is endless when it comes to developing mobile apps. Building a Minimum Viable Product which includes all the must-have features provides clarity to the dev team and gives you the opportunity to garner user response, test market assumptions and present it to the potential investors while keeping the development rates low. 

Mobile App Development Cost of Popular Apps: 

Many well-known startups received seed round funding to support their product development. The mobile app development cost of famous startups will give you a clearer idea of how much does it cost to make an app.

We have already estimated the development price of popular apps like Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc. 

App Funding

Conclusion:

So, there you have it – the different features that affect the cost of developing an app and the fee variants that vary from factor to factor.

Knowing full well the pricing of app development lets you move beyond contemplating how much does it cost to build a mobile app. 

The exact price of app development depends on what your application is supposed to do. Since apps are customizable, you may expect the cost to vary considerably, based on what you need.

Contact our team of business development associates today to obtain further clarification on the cost breakdown structure of an app and the budget you should have depending on your application type. 

Cost to Make an App in 2020 infographic

Prateek Saxena
Prateek Saxena
Co-founder of Appinventiv
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