How much does it cost to make an app?

ThinkMobiles Team 16/04/2017

Application market grows day by day and a lot of people are looking for an answer on how much does it cost to make an app?. While world uses apps for communication, games, lifestyle, business, food, sports – creating own app is becoming extra topical.

The good news is – it isn’t really so expensive as most of us can think.

How much cost to make mobile app?

1. Type


2. Platforms


3. Design

Tempalte Individual Premium

4. Pages (approximately)

1 255+

5. Type of app

Native Hybrid

6. Versions support

Basic Advanced

7. Database


8. ERP integrations


9. CRM integrations


10. Mobile API


11. Content management system


12. Analytics


13. Mobile payments


14. Ecommerce integration

None Basic Advanced Enterprise
In-app coupons
Loyalty coupons

15. Users

Email login
Social login
Privacy settings
Activity feed
Group calls

16. Extra features

3rd party API
Task list
Rating system
QR code
Social sharing
Push notifications
Data collection
Geo location
Offline capabilities
Activity tracking
Augmented reality
Virtual reality
Data export

We have sent an estimate. Thank you!

How much does it cost to make an app?

Business, sport, lifestyle, game or whatever type it could be, your application may be native, or cross-platform. It’s very important to decide this at the beginning, because it has colossal influence on your budget.

Average cost to make an app highly depends on what type of app you choose to develop.

Hybrid apps

Cross-platform apps best suit for those who want to hit large range of audience as possible from the release. It costs much less to develop and maintain while there is one team, and the single code that works for all platforms.

Meantime cross-platform apps are less optimized, lack access to various device’s APIs and can’t provide native user experience.

It’s suitable for small and medium:

  • Communication apps.
  • Lifestyle apps.
  • Game apps.

Native apps

It’s suitable for large and heavy apps that are looking for the best user experience, better optimization and fast work. Those apps may use various device’s APIs and process wide range of features at the same time.

Native apps would be as expensive as many platforms you want to support, because more people would be involved into the app development process as well as more work should be done.

It’s suitable for large and heavy:

  • Business apps.
  • Entertainment apps.
  • Education apps.

Preference of the application type may change depending on how much content and features you want them to support.

It’s important because you can get your desired app quicker if you know what exactly you want and what type it should be. Otherwise engaging into the developing process without a good plan, likely, may cost you time and money.

So, there are next categories of applications you can create:

Basic table functionality

This app is truly easy and fast to develop and it includes very few or even no features at all. Such kind of apps are mostly developed for personal use to work various personal information and optimize it. You probably won’t find something like this in any app store.

It’s so simple that it may be described in few words. Usually, it’s made to display a list of topics – by clicking on one of them user can view info about it, or open a new list.

Database-driven functionality

It’s more complex than simple interaction table apps. It has massive data to operate with that stores directly on device memory (native), or on web server (dynamic). To work as desired, additional features like camera, internet connection or access to the gallery may be required.

Examples of such native apps that use device memory to store data library are various dictionaries or encyclopedias.

Examples of dynamic apps that require an internet connection to function are Twitter and WhatsApp.

Enhancement or Modification of Device Firmware or Hardware

These types of applications access device’s performance and try to enhance its functionality. It could be camera, flashlight, alarm clock or any other function.

AlarmMon allows users to customize alarm clock, while also adding different interesting functions, like simple puzzle that should be solved to disarm the alarm.

Ink Hunter augmented reality app gives access to a camera to change the marker into the selected tattoo – it helps to decide if its design fits you.


Games may be simple and may be heavy with advanced 3D graphics and physics, including a wide range of different features like game center integration, global ratings, AR support, even social media integration. Obviously, a more complex game would cost more, so it’s hard to tell exactly without estimate how much to make an app may cost.

The game app is the most popular category of application worldwide and usually the most profitable one, even if they stay in free-to-play form.

Famous Angry Birds by Rovio cost near $140,000, made $70 million in the first year, and now it’s worth billions.

Multi-feature or Enterprise

Apps that miss all categories above, or contain functions of two and more categories. It’s impossible to set average range of prizes to them before knowing what content and features it should include.

Who can develop my app idea?

App developer companies’ costs

Surely, it seems to be the most expensive choice, but the reliability is at maximum. The developer team you hired would help you get the best app from your idea. Designers, programmers, project managers – all of them are skilled and professional, moreover they are used to work in team with each other.

Most of top-chart applications in Google Play Store and Apple AppStore are developed by such kind of companies. Of course, there are indie-developed projects that hit top, but they mostly stay as an exception.

Dealing with companies that makes apps you also may get more than you even expected and would pay for. Managers that work with you try to make from your idea proper stuff and build the concept from it. They help you think through and include each scenario possible.


  • Get all in one – good companies have full staff, everyone you need. There is no need to seek programmers, designers or testers separately.
  • See what you pay for – large portfolio, good estimate and hour rates, you know everything you get before paying.
  • Discipline and skill – companies ensure that employees do their work on time and do it well.


  • High cost – for obvious reasons developer companies charge higher prices among other alternative options.

But there are still some moments!

Hourly rates differ extremely around the globe, while the quality of end product may be still. So, if you have a brilliant idea, good concept and clear thoughts on what you really need, there is no need to pay more, because high price doesn’t mean high quality.

For example, famous Clash of Clans was built in Western Europe.

$50-250 – North America (plus Japan and South Korea).

$35-170 – UK and Western Europe.

$50-150 – Australia and Oceania.

$20-120 – Eastern Europe.

$20-90 – South America.

$10-80 – Asia (mainly India and China).

We offer best quality for optimal costs!

Freelance app developer costs

Good freelancers still may build superior apps not worse than developer companies. They would have same quality, while cost few times cheaper. The reason why software agencies charge is so high are taxes, employment payment, office rent etc.


  • Usually, It’s cheaper than average companies may charge.

But the risk to mess with freelancers is still high – cheap app developers may cost you even more. And be sure to meet many problems on your way to release app.


  • Find `em all – as agencies provide full development team, you would have to find every one by your own.
  • No project manager to control process except you. Be ready to coordinate the team, pay attention to deadlines and budget expenses.
  • No master-of-all freelancer exists in the real world. Your programmers and designers would be complete strangers to each other, so communication problems may arise.
  • Lack of skills – while top-rate freelancers may be real professionals, average one would still lack some skills.

There are even more pitfalls that may wait for your project. But no one would say that a deal with freelancers is completely a safe decision. And in the end the application you desire to create may be not the same as you expected.

Modern freelance platforms obtain different ways to gauge the performance, like ratings, reviews and past projects portfolio. But it only helps top freelancers rise hourly rate, while other app developers still don’t become more disciplined and safe.

Average freelancer rates vary as well as companies’ in matter of their location. Good platforms to find some of them are Upwork and Toptal.

Get templates or starter kits and find a freelancer or agency to edit it.

As usually, while something is getting popular, people create clones out of that. If you have an idea similar to any popular app in stores there is a high chance to find the source code of it for $25-200 per licence. To be honest, it’s almost nothing compared to coding it from scratch. But you still have to customize it to avoid problems with right owners. You need designers to change how things look in the app. Also if you want to change how things work, or add something new you need to find a programmer.

Freelancer problems and cost of hiring a company remain the same, while new pitfalls arise:

  • It still requires customization – the more unique application you want to create, the more changes should be done. So it would cost more in the end.
  • Bugs may appear – in source code there may be bugs, that would require to be fixed by the programmer. As he didn’t write that code he needs time to understand it and find the bug.
  • Lack of uniqueness – while it’s a template, there are, likely, to be tons of clones in stores. So profit from the end-product stays questionable.

If you seek exact template, or just want to check list of available ones visit Chupamobile.

Buy template or starter kit and do it by yourself

If you have skills in programming and designing you may try to manage the whole project by your own. But there might be some stuff you don’t know how to do by yourself. For small payment, some agencies and freelancers can consult you on what you should do.

Use online Appmaker

The app to make an app sounds wonderful, especially while it does not require any knowledge of programming. Still, it requires some designer skills as well as knowledge about how builder works.

But to be honest, most apps of such kind are extremely limited in options, tools and even types and genres. Meantime, in the end, your desirable app may be buggy, badly optimized and lack a wide range of features you’ve planned (because app makers don’t support those).

Subscription costs to use such tools start from $10 per month or may cost $5,000 initially.

If you plan to try yourself at game creation visit Buildbox. If it’s a simple application – visit Como.

Partnership with a developer to create an app from your idea and split the profit.

Mostly, it isn’t an option, despite you know the programmer and designer personally, or have a good relationship with developer company. Otherwise, they are likely to reject your offer while it’s too risky to work with a stranger and chances of success are small.

Rescue project

No project, even a good planned, is safe from wrecking apart. Such kind of situation may be caused by different reasons, such as an unclear idea, inexperienced current team, or low quality work. It’s a problem, but not the critical one.

Some companies, as well as our, provide services to solve problems and save projects. It may be a bit expensive, but it’s way better than just to abandon the project with all time and money funded into it.

Cost of Developer Team to Create an Application

Even a small application should be done by a team, not by one person, so it will provide better user experience. It would be much faster and much more qualitative in the end, because everyone is engaged and responsible for their own part of the project.

Surely, complex applications require more people to be involved in the development process.

Basic development team

  • Project manager.
  • Programmer.
  • UI/UX designer.
  • QA engineer.

Extended development team

  • Project manager.
  • 2-4 Programmers.
  • UI/UX designer.
  • QA engineer.
  • Panel designer.
  • Backend developer.
  • Admin.

Duties and responsibilities

Project manager

Team leader that is responsible for making an app idea concept drive into reality. The main task of PM is to prevent any miscommunications in the team, avoid pitfalls and follow the deadlines. Good PM is competitive in all aspects of the project including UX, Tech and Business analysis.

Our rate of Project manager goes from $20 per hour, depending on project complexity.


A person that is responsible for tech architecture of the project. Programmer writes code of an app, integrates it with data source and fixes bugs. While everyone in team is important, programmer is critical. Moreover, he usually needs more time in comparison to others, because he does the largest part of work.

Our rate of Programmer varies from $25 per hour, depending on the project complexity.

UI/UX designer

He works on how application interface would be laid out and how it would be felt by user. Designers solve different tasks in measure to optimize the product interface for effective and enjoyable use. He is also responsible for how it looks and feels as well as its presentation and interactivity.

Our rate of UI/UX designers varies from $15 per hour, depending on project complexity.

QA engineer

Quality assurance engineer monitors each part of the app creation process and controls code and design quality. He ensures that the end-product will fit all requirements of the client. Also, he is responsible for a correct work of the application before it would be released to public use.

Our rates of QA engineer varies from $20 per hour.

Back-end developer

In few words, back-end developer ensures that application, database and server communicate with each other in a right way and the whole application works correctly. He uses server side languages as PHP, Ruby or Java, and tools like MySQL and ORACLE to find, save or change data.

Our rates of Back-end developer varies from $25 per hour.

Game development team

Costs to make a game would be higher in connection with the larger team requirements to build it. While the visual part of the project becomes as major as the technical code is, more people would get involved into the development process, such kind as 2D/3D designers and artists.

Also, sound gets the third place of priority in the list of game development costs. Music, sound effects and voice are also required to create a good game. So sound engineers and artists are also needed in a team.

We would provide the best development team to your project!

Size and Complexity of Application

“How much does my app development cost?” – not an easy question to any development agency or freelancer. That’s why estimate is required, because every part of the app should be included before anyone said the answer.

Meantime, some companies that have experience in application development may give rough answers with approximate numbers and prices. So, let’s divide apps into 3 categories:

Simple Apps

Those don’t need anything special and require just basic functions.

  • No third party APIs integration.
  • No backend infrastructure.
  • Standard UI components.
  • Feed lists and filters.
  • Simple features like:
    • email subscription.
    • social login.
    • calendar, etc.

Average work time is up to 400 hours.

Moderate Apps

Those apps have a wide content, APIs are supported and interactive.

  • Custom UI features.
  • Real time chats.
  • Payment features.
  • Headsets and tablets adapted.
  • APIs integrated.
  • Simple backend server.

Average work time from 500 to 800 hours.

Complex Apps

It’s highly interactive and has advanced functionality with complex features. It has custom app development parts, like design and some unique features. Most top-charts applications in Stores are complex whatever they look like at first sight.

  • Multi-language support.
  • Third party integration.
  • Custom animations.
  • Complex back-end.
  • High-end design.
  • Audio and video.
  • Real-time sync.

Most games are complex and require additional:

  • Graphic design.
  • Custom music and sound effects.
  • Scores and achievements.
  • Single- and multiplayer.
  • Storyline.

It takes more than 800 hours to develop an app and 1200 hours to develop a game.
Average game development cost may be two times higher than average app.

How much does it cost to make an app step by step

An average cost of developing an app depends directly on time required for each part and how much do app developers charge for an hour. Let’s take a closer look on app development process.

Application Planning

Research and Discovery

This phase consists mostly of app complexity research and creation of app development timelines. Larger project size, obviously, would drive hours up for sure. Meantime, most common factors that should be included are:

  • Total size of the project.
  • Quantity of features and screens that the project includes.
  • Unknown factors, such as new technologies, client owned APIs.
  • Uncleared client request and ideas that should be solved and put into a concept.

The client may also ask about more time to solve some of his own factors, like market research.

An average time is from 8 to 40 hours, with a maximum of 200 hours.


This phase is connected with previous (research and discovery) but is mainly composed from documentation and agreements as well as project plan creation. This phase length also depends on project size and complexity, but the main factor is customer’s experience and preparedness.

While a customer is not sure yet about the application idea, all its features and doesn’t have a clear vision of it, it requires more time to resolve all issues. Prepared documentation and wireframes may boost scoping process time.

An average time is from 8 to 28 hours, with a maximum of 160 hours.

Application Designing


This step is required for designing and approving with client wireframes. Its minimal sketch models are needed for structure and layout app screens.

  • Time lengths may significantly increase if a client provides an unclear request for wireframes.
  • While more details and features should be included into each wireframe, the more complex design should be created.
  • Also, time may increase according to the number of screens needed.

Meantime, if clients have own wireframes examples, or provide certain and details requests it also may buff this phased process.

An average number of app screens is 7, and time requirements for them are from 16 to 56 hours, with a maximum of 140 hours.

Visual Design

This phase includes the process of designing, approving and creating different images, icons, layers, etc. All those elements would become a visual shell of app in future. So, the main factors that affect terms of that step are next:

  • The number of app screens and UI elements that each screen contains.
  • Complexity and quantity of custom-designed elements.
  • Specific or not certain customer preferences.

Factors that may lower time needs are examples of applications with the same design as needed or simple design requirements.

An average time is from 16 to 88 hours, with a maximum of 200 hours.

User Experience Design

UX design requires to ensure that the application would be easy, intuitive and enjoyable to operate. It checks logic of screen layouts and architecture. Also UX design considers standards of design to exact operating system or device.

Usually UX design doesn’t exist as a separated phase from wireframe or UI design, and performs parallel with both of them. In some cases it may be used to plan wireframe and UI validity from scratch in terms of user experience.

An average time is from 8 to 24 hours, with maximum of 200 hours.

Application Features

Quantity list isn’t fixed for application type or category and it may vary for each different app. Meantime, the features are also the main time-driver of most applications. In other words, complexity of features, its numbers and newness or unknown technologies fartors rise up the cost of building an app.

Here is the list of some key features that you might see in most of apps.

Native device features

Those features are mainly used to interact with device hardware and software. Some of them may be simple, others may be complex to develop and require more time. New tech APIs require more time to be created.

Native device features mean those that operate with:

  • Address book.
  • Gyroscope.
  • Camera.
  • GPS.
  • etc.

An average time is from 4 to 24 hours, with a maximum of 100 hours.

User engagement features

Commonly, it’s about social sharing, e-mail, SMS and pushes notifications to stay users engaged with an app. More complex cases might use the third party API services, or even should be coded from scratch.

On the other hand, some paid services may be integrated into the app architecture to shorten the development hours.

An average time is from 6 to 32 hours, with a maximum of 150 hours.


Common to any user feature that may also drive up your budget. Additional features, beside simple login function, obviously, increase time of development process. Most of them are simple, but each one needs time to be done:

  • Password restore.
  • Email verification.
  • Remember me.
  • Social login.
  • Stay logged in.

An average time is from 4 to 24 hours, with maximum 70 hours.

Location data usage

The time requirements differ in each task significantly. Its depends on functionality that should be checked when data package is received. Also how this data would be used also matters much. Additional visualization or interaction would drive time of development process.

An average time is from 6 to 24 hours, with maximum 150 hours.

Payment integration

Adding in-app payments gateway may be done by standard solutions, or be fully customized for clients’ needs. Developers may integrate online services like Stripe and Authorize, or native device services such as Apple’s in-app purchase.

There is no unified method to integrate all payment gateway types. So each one of them requires time to be integrated. Moreover, recurring payment such as subscription needs different methods to be done, so, it would take additional time to be done.

An average time is from 20 to 40 hours, with maximum 200 hours.

Multi-device sync

This feature uses back-end system to sync different user’s devices between each other. This means, any data on one device is available on any other device. But sync of complex and heavy data, several custom APIs would increase cost of making an app.

Sometimes native cloud datastores may be used, for example iCloud. Using web platforms for such cases may be an option too. But mostly developers require an outer platform to sync data.

An average time is from 16 to 64 hours, with maximum 200 hours.

Application Infrastructure

Setup & Basic Controls

A time that is needed to build up setup is minimal. Surely, custom mobile application development is a way more complex, than a common project with standard solutions. Larger projects with applications, back-end system and payment integration would drive up time of development.

An average time is from 5 to 20 hours, with maximum 50 hours.

Data Storage

It highly depends on database complexity and the number of data types that need to be stored. Device storage is an easier solution, while both offline and online storage are complex and need more time to be developed. The method of storage and security level also influences cost.

An average time is from 6 to 40 hours, with maximum 200 hours.

The 3-rd party APIs integration

It is a common practice, and most of apps use APIs to get access to some functions and database that they may provide. Popular and frequently used APIs are easier to integrate. Some APIs also have a framework that simplifies work with that system.

Otherwise new, client-owned and rarely used APIs take more time to integrate. Moreover, lack of documentation about API, or no technical support from the 3-rd party API owners can also become a problem.

An average time is from 8 to 40 hours, with maximum 120 hours.

Access to Enterprise Data

It is hard to say even the exact number of hours that are needed to set access to data between application and APIs. It hardly depends on API availability, its documentation, and structure as well as application itself.

An average time is from 24 to 100 hours, with maximum 400 hours.


In measures of security application data may need encryption, especially if it contains private or corporate information. Surely, time required to set encryption, depends on security level that must be reached and volumes of data that should be secured.

An average time is from 10 to 40 hours, with maximum 80 hours.

Scalability (huge number of users)

This phase applies to the server-side and back-end server support, than the application itself. It determines how easy and fast application will deal with heavy user activity. Application with a high number of active users requires more stable scalability.

An average time is from 20 to 120 hours, with maximum 800 hours.

App Administration

Tools for analytics

Most of applications are developed with integrated analytics tools. It tracks user activity and assess performance. A wider range of data and specific details that require to be tracked, need more complex and larger tools to be integrated.

Integration of the 3-rd party APIs like Google Analytics for the same reasons may save time and money. But more complex and larger numbers of parameters to track will drive up cost.

An average time is from 8 to 20 hours, with maximum 80 hours.

Web Portal or CMS to Manage App

Large apps, sometimes, may require additional Web application development to simplify management of app users, add and update content, etc. The more flexibility and custom CMS are needed the more time is required to set things up.

An average time is from 35 to 120 hours, with maximum 800 hours.


Internal, User and Deployment Testing

High number of application features, it’s complexity as well as quantity of screens influence testing time. Additional attention and time require game apps and apps with high security requirements. So it also drives up overall app development cost

An average time is from 30 to 150 hours, with maximum 300 hours. It also may set 20% or 30% of total hours required for app development.


Licensing, Packaging, and More

The last step requires some time to get up things ready. Accounting app for administrative tasks and submitting it to the App Store if it is necessary.

An average time is from 4 to 12 hours, with maximum 40 hours.

How much does it cost to maintain an app? Post development app expenses

Unfortunately, your expenses don’t end on application release. It’s always only the first step of a long journey. Many things should be done, and overall price of them may reach from 10% to 30% per year of total application cost. For example, if the development of your app costs $200,000, then you should estimate that app maintenance will cost you around $40,000 per year.

Some additional features may boost the cost of app maintenance even higher, these features include:

  • powerful servers – $20-$60/month
  • push notifications – $10/month
  • payment gateways – up to $149/month plus a certain percentage from each transaction
  • emergency maintenance – depends on the nature of an emergency

Update to every new OS version released

This case is especially applied to native apps, while any change of main OS platform is critical to their performance. So, each platform update would require application update from your side, otherwise some bugs may appear.

User support

Despite the fact how good, easy, stable and intuitive an app may be, there are always some people that keep asking things. Support services are extremely required if application is complex and have wide range of features, contain in-app purchases or are anyhow connected with real money.

Third party APIs charges

Each of the third party APIs has own charges of usage, so, it better to take that fact before an app is released. Such kind of expenses may heavily impact on your budget and decrease your overall profit from an app.

Updating and upgrading app

Commonly, users want to see new features, services, good security and more to be sure application is alive. It especially applies to game and entertainment applications. New content, for sure, will keep your audience engaged but may be costly.


Rarely on release date an application is coming fully polished without any bug that may be found after. Most of them may appear while application falls into mass usage.

App Store developer fee

If you plan to get into App Stores shop you should get to know about its expenses and fee before you do. For example, one time fee of Google Play is $25 while Apple App Store is $99 per year. Meantime App Stores often take 30% of app cost before passing money from a purchase to a developer.


So, how much does it cost to build an app depends on many factors. Development charges, application size, complexity and newness of technologies are included. The cost of creating an app isn’t an easy question to answer.

We hope our little research will help you to find answers by your own. If not, we are always ready to help you estimate any of your app idea, to find cost to make an app for you.

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