How Much Does App Development Cost in 2021?

Mobile Apps are a crucial part of every business. You need a mobile app to showcase & sell your services/products to your consumers. With the whole world going mobile, the idea is to present a service or a product right where a user is looking for it – on their smartphone. So, how much does mobile app development cost in 2021?

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When it comes to mobile app development costs, getting the exact figure is almost impossible. Depending on the type & complexity of your mobile app, the app development cost in 2021 lies anywhere between $5,000 – $500,000. I know that this is quite vague.

This app development cost breakdown will help you get a better perspective on how and where should you spend your mobile app budget in 2021. Here’s what to expect from the FREE App Dev/Cost Calculator.

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Before getting on with the topic, here is a look at app development costs in surveys.

A Look at App Development Costs: Survey Results

  • The average mobile app development costs for an iOS app are about $28, 0000, for an Android app is about $23,000 and for a Windows Phone app is about $18,000. (BusinessofApps)
  • The average minimum mobile app development cost is $5,000 – $10,000. However, the typical cost to build a meaningful app will likely be significantly higher. (Clutch)
  • The mobile app development cost for an app with advanced features like Instagram is $70,000 – $100,000, medium complex features like WhatsApp is $61,000-$69,000, and basic features like Tinder is $40,000 – $60,000. (GoodFirms)

Now that we have rough estimates from these survey results, I have covered a comprehensive app development cost breakdown in this article to give you a more exact cost of creating an app.

Factors that Affect Mobile App Development Costs

Multiple different factors have an impact on your app development cost. In this section, I am going to list out a few major ones.

  • Which platforms do you want to launch your app on?
  • What type of app are you planning to build?
  • How complex is the design of your app?

Let’s dive deeper into this!

#1. Mobile App Development Platforms 

The first step of mobile app development is to choose the platform you want your app for – Native, Hybrid or Cross-Platform. In this app development cost breakdown, here is a brief about these types to give you a rough idea.

  • Native: The mobile apps that we use and talk about daily are usually Native. Native apps are developed to function on a particular OS. For instance, a Native App built for Android won’t function on an iOS platform and vice-versa.
  • Hybrid/ Cross-Platform: If you ignore the technicalities of how the UI of the app is rendered on a native device, hybrid and cross-platform apps are basically the same. A hybrid or a cross-platform app functions the same way for different OSs.

You get the idea. If you want your app to be Native, you will have to invest more depending on the number of platforms (iOS, Android, and Windows) you want to target. 

On the other hand, if you want to save on app development costs, you should go for a Hybrid or Cross-Platform App. Having said that, Native Apps are technically superior and perform better as compared to Hybrid apps.

If you already have a budget, start by allocating 10% of your app development budget for business (or market) analysis. Understand your user base and the platforms you want to target. Decide the key features you want your app to have such as social logins, payment gateways, etc. 

This will help you decide the ideal path for your app. 

For instance, if you are planning to launch a paid app or an app that contains in-app purchases, iOS is the platform for you. Research says that consumer spending on iOS apps is almost 2x (at $41.5B in Q1 & Q2 2021) than on Android apps (at $23.4B in the same duration).

This brings us to our next point in app development cost breakdown – What is the type of app you want to create?

#2. Type of App 

When looking for an exact answer to how much does it cost to make an app, deciding the type of app you want for your startup or business is crucial. 

I know it is not really possible to categorize every app there is in separate categories, but here are a few major app categories most apps fall into.

  • Basic Apps: Apps with a maximum of 4-5 screens fall into this category. And as you can already guess, the mobile app development cost of basic apps starts from $15,000 – $25,000.
  • Data-Driven Apps: Data-driven or database mobile apps are those where a connection to your server is required. Data-driven apps can cost up to $80,000.
  • Enterprise Apps: Enterprise apps are the category where most B2B apps and apps for employees fall in. The average app development cost of enterprise apps is $60,000-$100,000.
  • Gaming Apps: Gaming apps require spot-on UI/UX and the integration of advanced features. The app development cost of gaming apps will cost you around $150,000 or more, depending on the number & complexity of features you want to use in your mobile app!

Now, depending on the type of your mobile app, the app design cost is the next thing you’d want to consider while deciding the mobile app development budget.

#3. Design Costs of A Mobile App

Mobile app design cost, in itself, is a huge topic. Most technical make the mistake of not factoring in design costs in their mobile app development budget.

For instance, the UI/UX design of an Uber-like app would take 120 hours. Given this time, here is what your mobile app design cost for different regions.

  • North America: $6000 – $14,400 
  • Europe & Australia: $6,000 – $12,000
  • Resourcifi: $2000 – $2500

To get a fair estimate of how much your mobile app design would cost, get in touch with us!

Having said that, the UI/UX design takes a lot of time (planning, research, wireframe, prototyping, high-fidelity designs, etc.) and plays a deciding role in the quality of your mobile app. 

Even though the design trends keep changing, always keep the end user experience in mind when getting your mobile app designed – are they looking for simple user flow/functionality or would they expect your app to have complex graphic elements.

There are easy options for this as well, such as using default OS screens & standard elements. The UI/UX design of your mobile app, however, decides how interactive your app is going to be, the average session time of your users, and how well will it perform in the market. 

This is why I advise you not to compromise on this stage!

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Hidden App Development Costs

When preparing a mobile app development budget, it’s as important to factor in hidden mobile app development costs; things like third-party integrations, server & management costs, upgrade & maintenance costs, etc.

These will play a crucial role in deciding the final cost of your mobile app.

#1. Third-Party API Integration

More the number and complexity of features you want in your app, the more will its app development cost. 

For instance, here are a few integrations and their respective app development costs.

Keep in mind that the costs mentioned below don’t include the costs of these APIs. For example, Google Maps offers 28,000 API requests per month for free. Post this, the cost per 1000 API requests is $7.

  • Facebook Integration: $250-300
  • Google Maps Integration: $350 – $400
  • Payment Gateway Integration: $1400 – $1700

It is always a good idea to decide beforehand what all mobile app features you want and if they require third-party API integrations. This will not only help you to put a number to your app development costs but also give a rough idea of how long will the development & deployment process take! 

#2. Server & CDN Costs

This is another hidden mobile app development cost. 

Mobile apps need servers, domains, and hostings to set up their infrastructure. Depending on the service you choose, such as Azure or AWS, the annual server costs for your mobile app can come to around $10,000.

Other than server costs, you will need data storage for storing user data like – profile pictures, videos, etc. The data storage of your mobile app would cost around $3000-$3500.

Another factor that you need to consider while calculating your mobile app development budget is Content Delivery Network – CDN. The cost associated with CDN comes to around $3500 per year.

These are a few hidden mobile app development costs associated with most mobile apps. Other than these, you can also expect costs of app development tools/libraries, app updates, etc.

#3. Upgrade & Maintenance

I am listing ‘upgrade & maintenance’ under hidden app development costs because most founders don’t consider it while calculating their mobile app development budget. And, mostly because this comes after your app has been developed and launched.

The annual upgrade & maintenance cost (Dev Ops) of a mobile app comes around 18-20% of your app dev budget. 

Using that logic, the annual DevOps cost for a $10,000 app will amount to $2000.

The next that comes in line when calculating the mobile app development budget is your team.

Mobile App Development Cost: Who to Hire? 

When it comes to getting your mobile app developed, you have 4-5 options: hiring a freelancer, setting up an in-house team, outsourcing your entire project, and hiring offshore developers (Staff Augmentation). 

There are a couple of other options as well Hybrid teams, for instance. Some of our clients hire a couple of our developers to work as an extension of their in-house team.

Let’s say that you are planning to build an app like Netflix

Now, the server setup along with an Android & iOS app will take around 1,450 hours. This doesn’t include advanced additional features like geo-blocking, recommendation algorithm, download, etc.

Here are your options for getting your mobile app developed and their rough cost estimates. I’ve covered the pros and cons of each of these options in a different blog. 

Hiring Freelancers

A freelance mobile app developer and UI/UX designer charge anywhere from $60-$200 per hour and $45-$95/hour respectively. Basic mathematics says that you will end up paying up to $145,000 or more for your app.

Other than communication and other challenges, there are security risks involved when working with freelancers. 

Setting up an Inhouse Team

The average salary of mobile app developers in the US in 2021 is upwards of $110,000. Let’s say you set up a team of 5 mobile app developers – frontend & backend and 2 testers. 

Apart from the lump sums of their salaries, you also have other costs such as infrastructure costs, health & insurance costs, and more!

For a moment, let’s say that you have the funds required to set up an in-house team. But the process of defining job descriptions, going through hundreds of resumes/work portfolios, and finding the right candidate is tiring and resource-intensive.

Project Outsourcing

To control costs, many companies choose to outsource their entire project. This works great for enterprises that have plenty on their plate and want to get tick things off their plate. 

The good news is that things get simpler with project outsourcing if you choose the right agency to partner with. Your project is executed by specialists with decades of collective experience in your industry and you are updated regularly about your project’s progress.

The bad news is that the probability of partnering with a mediocre outsourcing company is high. And you don’t control the execution process which can be challenging if you are invested in the idea – right from the start. 

This brings me to the next option for your mobile app development team.

Staff Augmentation (Offshore Team)

Through the staff augmentation model, you can hire a managed remote team of mobile app developers, UI/UX designers, and QA experts. 

This will allow to control the entire execution process of your app development and still save thousands of dollar on your app development costs. If you already have an in-house team, you can also choose to augment your in-house team by hiring a couple of expert developers.

Staff Augmentation hits the sweet spot of all the above-mentioned options bringing to the table:

  • Freedom to scale up/down your team as & when required.
  • (Hundreds of) thousands of dollars in saved app development costs.
  • Streamlined communication & deadlines met with a dedicated project manager on the floor with your development team.

Hiring your managed app development team from Resourcifi. Or get in touch with us to learn more!

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How to Minimize App Development Costs?

There are n number of factors that affect your mobile app development costs. You don’t want to contact mobile app development companies with just an idea. Planning and research always help in minimizing your app development costs.

Here are a few ways to minimize your app development budget.

#1. Create A List of Features

Start with market research for your app idea. Be crystal clear on what all features you want your app to have. Create a list covering two sections – core (essential) features and non-essential (good to have) features.

This will help you accomplish two things. One, it will help you break down a complex app idea into smaller, tangible app features. Two, you will know exactly what you want your app to have. This will help you get accurate cost estimates from different app development vendors.

#2. Get An MVP Developed

MVP can help you test the market validity of your app idea. This can, potentially, help you save thousands of dollars in development costs by helping you understand what essential features your app must have and if there are any pivots required.

The development cost of an MVP of your app will cost you a fraction of your entire mobile app dev budget. 

#3. Use Templates

Don’t always aim to reinvent the wheel. Simple works. You can minimize your app development costs by using app screen templates. There are multiple sources where you can find app screen templates that can be tweaked & reimagined by an experienced designer to fit your needs.

Besides, you can always rebrand once you have enough users for your mobile app.

App Development Cost of Industry Unicorns

Before I move forward with the app development cost breakdown, let’s quickly look at how much would it cost to develop popular apps like Uber, Netflix, and WhatsApp. It will give you an idea of how to go about estimating the cost of your mobile app.

App Development Cost of An App Like Uber

The Resourcifi cost of developing an app like Uber (both Passenger & Driver cost) is $40,000 – $45,000 for one platform.

The app development cost in the USA for the same would come to $120,000 – 130,000. 

To give an app development cost breakdown, the Uber App for passengers and drivers would take around 1010 hours and 370 hours to be developed respectively. The hourly rate of our developers is $25-$35 while the cost of developers in the US averages around $90-$100.

Key features of a Uber-like app would be routing and advanced route optimization, payment integration, SMS and push notifications integration, geolocation, etc.

App Development Cost of An App Like Netflix

The Resourcifi app development cost of Netflix (both for iOS & Android) is $80,000. The collective cost of the same in the USA would amount to $170,000 – $200,000.

Key features of a Netflix-like app are search, newsfeed/activity feed, content recommendation algorithm, data sync, geolocation, push notifications, downloads, and more.

App Development Cost of An App Like WhatsApp

The Resourcifi cost of an app like WhatsApp would be $45,000 for one app. The same would cost you $150,000 in the US.

The essential features of a WhatsApp-like app would be user registration, instant messaging, chat encryption, voice & video calls, push notifications, location/file sharing, etc.

App Development Cost: Over to You!

The development phase of your mobile app is done but is that it? Two important stages are still left before your users start using your app – QA Testing & Marketing.

QA Testing ensures that your mobile app doesn’t show any errors and functions exactly the way it is developed. QA Testing costs anywhere around $4000 – $8,000.

Only after proper marketing, you can expect your app to attract users. Depending on the medium you choose for marketing your business, the marketing of your app can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars and more!

Besides marketing, there is one more ongoing mobile app cost – update & support. To get continued interaction from your users, your mobile app needs to be up-to-date with the latest technology trends and behavioral changes.

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Resourcifi offers managed remote mobile app developers who can be hired on a part-time, full-time, or hourly basis.

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