What’s the Price for Building an App: Estimating Development Expenses

How to Figure Out App Development Cost

The price of app development is the top concern for businesses that are going digital. However, there’s no fixed price for this request. The cost varies depending on your demands and a lot of other factors. 

In this post, I’m going to shed light on the factors that influence app development price, like cost by app types, type of development team, and so on. 

App Development Costs: Every Factor Explained

Let’s begin with some statistics:

  • In 2017, Clutch conducted a survey to figure out the average cost of app development. 102 companies reported that the minimum project cost is $5,000-$10,000, but in most cases, the price is significantly higher.
  • The same report stated that 56% of app development companies charge $10,000 or less for one year of app maintenance.
  • VDC claims that average app development time is 6+ months and the average project bill us $140,000.

These facts are confusing customers because the price varies from $5,000 to $140,000 and up. 

The reason is that app development depends on a vast range of factors — the number of platforms, features, location of the development company, and more. That’s why different companies may charge different prices even for an app with similar functionalities.

So, you should understand that it’s impossible to search for the exact cost of your App on Google. But we can discuss the average cost of some well-known apps.

Average Cost to Develop an App

A survey conducted by Goodfirms estimated the average cost to develop an app like Periscope, Uber, Tinder WhatsApp, etc.

And here’s what it stated:

  • For an app with advanced features like Instagram or Uber, a company will charge you between $70,000 to $100,000. Development time: 5,3 months.
  • Moderate complexity apps like WhatsApp or QuizUp costs between $61,000 to $69,000. Development time: 4,7 months.
  • Apps with simple functionality like Tinder of Periscope will cost you between $40,000 to $60,000. Development time: 4 months.

However, these estimates are approximate, and the price will change with every feature you want to add or refuse. 

Cost of App Development: Major factors

Let’s begin with a short list of factors that software development companies are taking into account during the estimate:

  • Type: hybrid/native (or Flutter)
  • Complexity of features
  • Platform: iOS/Android or both
  • UI/UX design: native/custom

We’re going to get a closer look at each of these factors. 

Platforms (iOS/Android)

Aiming to get the maximum performance out of iOS? Or maybe you want to use the rich customization abilities of Android? Before choosing any option, you have to study both platforms’ markets, device prevalence, and fragmentation.

Even though the Android and iOS app development process differ, the cost of an app for each platform doesn’t have a large difference. If you’re building a Tinder-like app for iOS, devs will need about 456-654 hours. On Android, it will take 459-660 hours.

If you’re on a budget and aiming at both platforms, a hybrid app is your cup of tea. This is because the development process for both platforms requires twice more developers. That’s why the app cost is doubled. However, if your app is hybrid, you’ll need only one development team.

Hybrid, native apps, and Flutter

Let’s start from the very beginning 

If your app meets the guidelines of a particular OS, it’s considered native. Thus, you’ll need to separate apps for each platform.

Hybrid apps are compatible with multiple OS, so the development cost becomes twice lower. However, cutting the expenses always leads to some compromises. Hybrid apps generally are less optimized than native ones. 

What about Flutter?

With Flutter, programmers can write code ones and then use it for development on both platforms. This approach cuts the development time to the minimum and lowers the price up to 60%. 

Let’s take a look at examples of well-known apps.

AppiOS, hours(max)Android, hours(max)Flutter, hours(max)
Netflix441435530
Housekeep692697793
Instagram104910511100

As we see, Flutter significantly cuts the average cost. However, it doesn’t harm the app quality because the code can be freely applied to both platforms. 

Complexity of Features

Functionality is the biggest object of expenditure in the whole app development process. Apart from the main logic, integration of third-party APIs takes a lot of time.

Let’s get deeper into some features. For example, a basic search algorithm takes 13-18 hours to implement. Basic messaging features with online/offline status, typing status, chats, will take around 160 hours. 

You can see the list of the most advanced features below.

FeatureDescriptionApproximate time
Streaming-View streams – Launch/stop stream – Switch between streams90-140 hours
Calls-Audio calls – Video calls – Importing list of contacts 257-365 hours
Map-Geolocation- Search on the map – Set points on the map for others60-78 hours
Payments-Check balance – List of transactions – Adding payment methods60-78 hours

User Interface Design

The price of UI design always depends on the number of other features. Usually, it takes from 20 – 220+ hours of development. The most affordable option is to use OS-supplied items and create screens of standard elements.

Location of Development Team

Now we are close to the last specific thing that wasn’t included in our list. The development cost also depends on the location of your development team.

Down below, you can see developers’ rates in different regions. 

As you see, the US and Australia charge more than any other region. But outsourcing is today’s trend in software development. Because of the low average income, Ukraine and India charge less but deliver a quality product in the shortest terms.

How to Figure Out App Development Cost

To start estimating the app cost, you should ask yourself about the features you want to include. You can build an MVP video-streaming service with login, payment system, and videos itself. Or you can expand your app and add TV live streaming, additional profiles for family members, and enable your videos with HDR.

Each feature will take the developers’ time and increase the overall app price. 

Let’s review our video-streaming example. On average, it will take around 50 hours to integrate a video player. Then we need to know how much developers charge. Let’s take a rate of $50/hour (average rate in Eastern Europe). 

The last step is to multiply the number of hours by rate. So, the price for this feature will be $2,500.

Here’s a little cheat-sheet for you:

Payment Models

If you’ve decided to outsource your development, you’ll have three options — fixed price, time and material, and dedicated team models. 

Let’s quickly run through each of them.

Fixed Price

This is the most suitable option for startups and projects on budget. A development company will calculate the time and budget needed for specified tasks. In this case, app cost is determined by the amount of work, and it can’t be changed after the signing of a contract.

Time and Material

This model fits small and mid-sized businesses. Usually, time and material strategy determine the app cost depending on the amount of hours spent by developers. Also, development companies include hardware and collateral expenses to the app development cost.

Dedicated Team

The last one is an enterprise-level model. Dedicated teams are hired in 2 situations:

  • They want to develop a product from scratch
  • They need a team to maintain an existing project

If you’re looking for a full team of developers or want to staff your existing team, the dedicated model suits you the most. 

However, project managers’ services are typically not included in the price. So, you either have to be tech-savvy or pay extra money for PM’s help.

App Development Cost by Stages 

In the final section, I will highlight the cost of every app development stage. Stay tuned!

Business analysis

Any app development process starts with planning. Business analysts, together with the client, will find out what features to develop and clear up all the business requirements. Generally, the planning phase takes about 3 weeks, depending on project complexity. 

Planning meetings, on average, take 50 hours per sprint. With an average rate of $50/hour for Eastern Europe, this stage will cost around $2,500. In regions like the US and Australia, this price will be significantly higher.

UI/UX Design 

Today, apps won’t succeed without an attractive design. That’s why an experienced UI designer is required to create web design and an attractive app layout.

Here are the most important UI/UX design stages:

  • Analysis of similar apps
  • Analyzing users’ needs
  • Wireframing 
  • Final design

If you’ve decided to build an app for two different platforms, your team will develop a design for two separate apps. iOS design usually takes more time than Android. Thus, a design for an Uber-like app will take around 120h ($6,000) for iOS-version and 100h($5,000) for an Android app.

Development

I’ve covered this stage earlier, but we will explore it once again. If you’re building a native app for each platform, you have to hire both Android and iOS development teams. The fundamental nature of the app development is, the more complex your app is, the more time devs need to spend on it. 

Let’s get to some examples.

User authorization with email, social media, and two-step verification by phone takes 28-42 hours and costs $1,400-$2,100. The basic in-app messaging feature will take around 160-170 hours and costs $8000-$8500. 

Again, all the sums are calculated based on a $50/hour rate.

However, app cost depends on the company’s expertise, region, and hourly rates.

QA Testing 

The QA team checks the efficiency of every feature after the development process. They check the app’s performance, stability, load, and so on.

Testing is held simultaneously with the development, and it’s as important as development is. The app can’t be launched without the QA team signing it off. 

Wrapping Up

Finalizing, I’d like to say that app development is a labor-intensive and expensive process. To make it more cost-effective, I recommend you to find a reliable outsourcing development team.

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