When you want to build an app for your business or your startup, it’s important to know how much it costs to develop an app. App development costs depend on several factors such as the complexity of the app, design requirements, platforms, location of developers, and many more. We conducted market research with various companies and based on our results, we found that app development costs can range from $30,000 to $300,000.

Small App
(app with 5-10 unique screens)
$30K(offshore) to $70K(Onshore)
Medium App
(app with 10-25 unique screens)
$50K(offshore) to $200K(Onshore)
Large App
(app with 25-45 unique screens)
$120K(offshore) to $500K(Onshore)

If you call several app development companies to figure out the cost of a project, you can expect a wide range of costs. You are dependent upon app development companies to come up with the estimates. What if there was a way to know the formula and process used by App Developers to estimate the cost of an app? If you can know and understand the formula used by App Developers, you can have a sense of the appropriate cost and then compare it with the estimates provided. We have created a universal formula that you can use to estimate the cost of your app.

Universal Formula to Calculate the App Development Cost

Simpalm’s team has used its 12 years of experience to come up with a Universal Formula that anyone can use to estimate the app development cost. Here it is:

app development cost formula

The hours required to build a mobile app depends upon a variety of factors including the size of the app, complexity, design requirements, the development process, backend server, maintenance, and several other related factors.

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  • Strategy

  • Design

  • Development

  • Support

A developer’s hourly rates depend upon the location and experience of the developer. An offshore vendor can charge between $25 to $40 per hour, a full onshore company can charge $120 to $150 per hour and a company with Onshore/Offshore resources may charge between $40 and $60/per hour.

Key Factors to Determine Before Estimating the Cost of App

Factor 1: Determine the components you need for your app

app models

When you build an app, you need more than an app. You will need its UIUX design, you will need a backend server that supports the app and you might need a Web admin to manage the data in the app. You will also have to determine if you need to launch your app on iPhone only or if you want to do it on both iPhone and Android platform.

Components of App Development Details
Design In this step, app development company will do the clickable wireframes and visual designs to capture the complete UX and UI design of the app.
iPhone AppMost of the companies in the USA launch on iPhone first and then Android.
Android AppDo you need Android as well? 80% of the projects in USA are launched on iPhone first.
Backend ServerBackend server is required to backup all the data from the app,
push content and messages to the app.
Web AdminYou may require a Web admin to manage the data and reports from the app.

Factor 2 :Determine the Size of Your App

To make it easy for you to understand how much your app may cost, you should first determine the size of your app. Here is a quick tip for you to know the size of your app:

SizeNumber of Screens
Small appIt should have around 6-10 unique screens
Mid-sized appIt should have around  10-25 unique screens
Large appIt should have  25-45 unique screens

A unique screen is something that is not repeated in the app with minor changes. It takes time and effort to design and develop a unique screen in the app. Once you determine the size of your app, you can have a better idea in terms of how much it might cost by following the cost factors defined in this blog.

Factor 3: Determine the location of the app development company

The location of an app development company/ developer is an essential factor that affects the cost of app development. Decide whether you want to build your app with an onshore or offshore development team. If you live in the USA, hiring an onshore development company can be expensive, but communication will be easier. Hiring an offshore development company will be the least expensive, but you may have quality and communication issues. App Developers in the USA will charge from $70-$120 per hour. Cost in South America/Eastern Europe is in the range of $30-$50/hour. The cost comes down to $15-$30/hour in Asian countries like India.

North America$120-$150 per hour
Blended Shoring Model$50-$70/Hour
South America and Eastern Europe$40-$60/hour

Factor 4: Native Vs Cross Platform

Mobile apps can be built using two different approaches. Native App Development requires separate developers for iOS app and Android App. iOS app in native approach is built using swift programming language and Android App in native approach is built using Kotlin programming language. Cross platform approach requires only one developer to build both the iOS and Android apps. Cross platform developer will use a platform like React Native, or Flutter or Xamarin to build both the apps.

  • The native approach provides best performance and scalability, however, it is more expansive than the cross platform approach.
  • Cross platform approach is economical, however, it may not be able to provide best user experience and the performance.
  • Very advanced consumer apps are built using native approach.
  • Apps, which have simpler designs and maybe for enterprise use are built using cross platform approach.

You should determine which approach is better for your app as it will affect the overall cost of building the app.

Estimate the Cost of Each Component of the App Development

1. How much does it cost to design an app?

It is very important to create a thoughtful UI/UX for the application. It does not matter if your app is small or big, this is the most crucial step of app development. It takes time and money to do UI/UX well, however, it will save you cost and time in the long run.  By having well-defined UI/UX requirements for the app, you can avoid cost escalation during the development of the project. The design process generally involves three key tasks:

  • Gather and understand the requirements in a Word document.
  • Create the layout and flow of the app using a wireframe tool.
  • Show the UI Design of the app using Photoshop, and selected themes, colors, and fonts.

Requirement gathering and wireframing are generally executed together. The graphical design is done once wireframe and requirements have been defined.   Developers will use a wireframing tool like Balsamiq or Proto I/O  to create the flow and screens of the app. Here are my estimated hours for the design of an app in three different sizes. The table also shows the cost of different types of vendors. Also, you can use this table to estimate the design cost of the project.

The table show the estimate cost of app visual design based on app size and developer location:

App SizeHours NeededUSA Based
Blended Shoring
Eastern Europe
India Based
Small App80$9600$4800$4000$2400
Medium App150$18,000$9000$7500$4500
Large App250$30000$15000$12500$7500

2. How much does it cost to develop native iOS and android app?

You can build your app using the Native iOS and Native Android Approach. Which is one of the best approaches to build high performing apps. You will need two separate developers to build your app on both iOS and Android platforms. Native android developers will be needed for the Android app and native iOS developers will be needed for iOS App.  If your app does not need a backend server, it will cost you less to get the app developed. You can use this Table to calculate the estimated time and cost to develop the app for one platform (iOS or Android). If you want to estimate the cost for both iOS and Android, just multiply the costs in this table.

Table show the estimate cost of Native app development based on app size and developer location:

App SizeHours NeededUSA Based
Blended Shoring
Eastern Europe
India Based
Small App400$48,000$24,000$20,000$12000
Medium App1000$120,000$60,000$50,000$30000
Large App2000$240,000$120,000$100,000$60,000

3. How much does it cost to develop cross-platform apps?

Instead of using a native app development approach, you can also use the cross-platform app development approach to build your app. In this approach, you don’t need two developers to build an app for iOS and Android. You can use one developer to build apps for both the platform. Some of the popular cross-platform frameworks available these days are: React Native and Xamarin.  You may not get performance as good as a native approach, but in many cases, it turns out to be a good option. You may not be able to reduce the time by half compared to the native approach, but it can be in the range of 70%-75% of the native approach for both the platforms. You can use this Table to calculate the estimated time and cost to develop the app using a cross-platform approach.

Table show the estimate cost of hybrid app development based on app size and developer location:

App SizeHours NeededUSA Based
Blended Shoring
Eastern Europe
India Based
Small App300$36,000$18,000$15,000$9000
Medium App800$96,000$48,000$40,000$24,000
Large App1800$216,000$108,000$90,000$54,000

4. Estimate the cost of backend/admin development

Most of the applications these days do require a backend, typically to be able to save data on a backend server, and to be able to fetch it again for later use. Whether it is a social media app, news app, nutrition app, productivity app, or on-demand app, you will need to build a backend server so that the app can function. Any app that needs to allow one user to access another user’s data, will need a backend server. Building backend adds cost to App Development. As a leading app and web development company in the USA, we recommend using Amazon AWS or Azure, a cloud-based backend so that the cost of development is less and maintenance will be easier. You can use the following table to estimate the cost of backend development an app.  Here is a table that gives estimates on app and backend server development:

Table show the estimate cost of backend development based on app size and developer location:

App SizeHours NeededUSA Based
Blended Shoring
Eastern Europe
India Based
Small App160$19,200$9600$8000$4800
Medium App400$48,000$24,000$20,000$1200
Large App1000$120,000$60,000$50,000$30,000

5. Estimate the post production cost

Once you launch the apps on stores, you may incur several additional costs. For example:

  • Cost to maintain the app in stores. If, for example, iOS or Android comes up with an update causes your app to dysfunction, you’ll need to address that. Typically, OS updates do not affect all apps, but statistically they do affect 2-5% of apps.
  • Cost to add more features to your app. You may come up with additional features that need to be added to your app.
  • Cost to market the app. This is not related to development, but still you will want to know this number.
  • If you want to allocate a budget for your first year of support, you can typically set aside 10% of your development cost for the support and maintenance. For example, if it cost  $20K to develop your app, you want to budget $2000 for first year of support.

Now you know how to estimate the cost for a Small App

A small app is one which has around 6-10 unique screens. This table shows the estimated cost of a small app based upon the location of the team.

OnshoreBlended ShoringEastern EuropeAsia
iOS App$24,000$12,000$10,000$6,000
Android App$24,000$12,000$10,000$6,000

Estimated cost for a Medium App by various components

A medium app is the one, which has around 10-25 unique screens. This table shows the estimated cost of a medium app based upon the location of the team.

OnshoreBlended ShoringEastern EuropeAsia
iOS App$60,000$30,000$25,000$15,000
Android App$60,000$30,000$25,000$15,000

Estimated cost for a Large App by various components

A large app is the one, which has around 25-40 unique screens. This table shows the estimated cost of a large app based upon the location of the team.

OnshoreBlended ShoringEastern EuropeAsia
iOS App$120,000$60,000$50,000$30,000
Android App$120,000$60,000$50,000$30,000

How Can You Reduce the Cost of Your App Development

You always want to build your product at minimum cost to be more successful with your idea. There are always ways to reduce the cost of your app development. Simpalm is one of the top app development company in Chicago, and has developed several mobile apps at a minimal cost. Here are some tips you can follow to reduce the cost of your app development:

1. One platform vs two platforms

If you want to build the app for both the iOS and Android platforms, then it will cost you almost double that of building an app for one platform. As a startup, you just want to start with one of the platforms and launch it to capture the market reaction. iOS is the most preferred platform in the U.S. when launching an app for only one mobile platform.  Remember Instagram? They initially came out with an iOS app only, yet started with millions of users. If your app is done right, you will gain a market just with one platform and will then be able to replicate your success on other platforms.

Cost of App for Two Mobile Platforms = 2 X (Cost of App for one Mobile Platform)

2. Native vs cross-platform approach

You can build mobile apps using a cross-platform framework such as React Native, Xamarin, PhoneGap, or Javascript. These frameworks allow you to build iOS and Android apps using a single source code.  Generally, it costs less to build iOS and Android apps using the cross-platform approach, compared to the native app development approach. You save money, but you may have to sacrifice on scalability and design. If it is a simple informational app, you can build it using a cross-platform approach. However, if you will have complex functionality, very advanced design, animation, or integration with an external device, you should use a native approach. You can get pricing for both approaches and get opinions from different vendors on the pros and cons of a cross-platform approach for your project, to help you make a  smarter final decision.

Cost of Cross Platform (iOS+Android) App < Cost of Native (iOS+ Android) App

3. Do initial wireframes and requirements yourself

You can reduce the design cost by doing initial work yourself. The major part of design work is writing requirements and doing screen sketches. You can find several sample requirement documents and templates that you can use to write your app functions and features. You may not have to be fully professional in writing these requirements, it is better to have something than nothing. If you provide a baseline requirement document to your designers, then it will reduce the number of hours needed to write it. Same goes for the wireframes, if you can do some sketches on a piece of paper which shows the screen flows and functions, it is easier for the designer to visualize the app flow and functions.

4. App development agency vs freelancer

It is always less expensive to have a freelancer work on the project than an app development agency.  App development company would charge you more but they are more committed to completing your project and a vast pool of talent.  Working with freelancers has its own risk, you totally dependent upon the freelancer. If they lose interest in your project or find something more interesting, they may just leave your project and you will be stuck.  If you have some idea about product development and project management and can find good freelancer from sites like upwork, you can go for freelancer approach.

I hope this has helped you understand how developers estimate the cost of an app project. To know more about mobile app development read our blog : Mobile App Development Checklist to Create Quality Product

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