Believe it or not, making an app is actually very similar to making a website. For example, you can purchase a template to make the process of building a website easier. Likewise, you can buy a template to make the process of building a mobile app easier as well as cheaper.

However, most businesses need a custom platform to promote their growth in the digital world. Building a custom app can be a move in the right direction for a company.

Building a custom mobile app requires a significant investment. This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at the many factors that influence app development costs.

The Cost to Make an App
How Much Does It Cost to Make an App?

Of course, when people think of the word “custom,” costs are what often come to mind. If you need to build a custom mobile app for your business, you may be wondering how much this may cost you. Therefore, you should plan the building process for the mobile app.

Some of the factors you should consider include cost, time, and talent. Here is some information about how much it costs to make an app.

SEE ALSO: How to Improve the Domain Authority of Your Website

The Development Cost of Making an App

The advent of smartphones and other mobile devices has shown us that the cost of starting a new business or creating a new product hasn’t changed significantly. Rather, the infrastructure has moved to a new asset class. In the past, businesses would invest in tools, buildings, and machinery. Now, capital is invested in quality software.

Businesses now need to focus on making their mobile apps more engaging and useful than those of their competitors. A good mobile app is key for capturing the attention and business of consumers.

You must have a good conceptual foundation for a large mobile app project. You also need to have stellar talent, thorough planning, and a significant amount of resources for both the design and engineering stages of the process. If you fail to pay sufficient attention to any of these elements, the return on investment and the value of your mobile app could go down the drain.

Since there are so many variables to consider, the cost of a mobile app varies significantly. A simple mobile app could cost as little as a few thousand dollars. On the other hand, the cost of a complex mobile app could easily grow into hundreds of thousands. The development process for such a complex app could take five to six months, if not more.

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App development software puts effective mobile experiences in the hands of small businesses. Image credit: Rami Al-Zayat

What’s Your Strategy for making an app?

The cost of a mobile app development will depend on the number of features the mobile app will boast. The complexity of the features is also relevant. The more complex elements and features a platform has, the more talent, planning, and resources will be needed to create the mobile app.

Before you start the process of designing and building the app, you need to identify the goals for your project. You should know exactly how your mobile app will differ from your competitors. Be sure you have a good idea of what you want your users to use the app for.

As you develop a strategy for the project, you should analyze your audience and the needs and wants of these consumers. The amount of time and manpower needed to create a strategy will depend on the complexity and size of the mobile app. It’s far easier to develop a good strategy for smaller mobile apps. A larger app would require more resources and tasks like stakeholder interviews.

Strategy costs:

  • Hours: 30 to 150 hours, depending on the complexity and size of the mobile app
  • Cost: About $125 – $250 per hour
  • Team: At least one strategist to an entire team, depending on the size of the project

Consider Usability and Information Architecture

Information architecture involves coming up with a preliminary design for the mobile app. You will work with the strategist and a few others to determine the optimal layout for the mobile app. You must fill out specification documents, structural diagrams, and wireframes.

This process stage is when you determine how your mobile app will work. You will determine the app’s functionality and how users will use the mobile app. As you can imagine, the information architecture stage for simple apps tends to take far less time. However, if your app needs more customization, you can expect to spend many hours planning at this stage, potentially impacting the overall app design cost. Have you experience in project management, or will you rely on the app development agency? There is a range of production processes that can help develop an app more efficiently and effectively.

Architecture costs:

  • Hours: Anywhere from 40 to 500 hours
  • Cost: $125 – $250 per hour
  • Team: The strategist and one or two other people

Make Mock-Ups of Your App

As you design a website, you need to think about how the design will suit several different devices, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tables. If you’re designing a mobile app, all you need to think about is how your mobile app will function on mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets.

This stage is what will truly bring your mobile app to your life. You can use Photoshop to make mock-ups of your mobile app. These mock-ups will represent what your mobile app is supposed to look like. Mock-ups can be visual representations or interactive. The amount of time it takes to complete mock-ups will depend on the complexity of the mobile app. Mock-ups could take just a few weeks or as long as a few months.

Mock-up costs:

  • Hours: Up to 1,000 hours
  • Cost: $125 – $250/hr.
  • Team: Can take an entire team or just one designer

Coding and Testing the Quality

Of course, the most crucial stage of the mobile app creation process is the development and maintenance of the mobile app. This stage is where you actually create the mobile app. Throughout the development process, the mobile app will be tested continuously to ensure functionality before moving on to the next step. About 20 per cent of the development process will involve testing the mobile app.

Therefore, if you spend five hours developing a mobile app, about one hour should be spent testing the quality of the mobile app.

The more complex the mobile app is, the larger the team of developers will need to be. In general, you will need a Designer, a System Administrator, a Quality Assurance individual, developers, an Account Manager, a Digital Strategist, and a Technical Lead to build a complex mobile app.

Of course, the people needed on the development team will differ from company to company. Every team member will play a significant role in developing and launching the mobile app. They will also help maintain the mobile app and collect feedback to make changes.

Testing costs:

  • Hours: Up to 10,000 hours
  • Cost: $125 – $250 per hour
  • Team: An entire team of 10 to 12 people


After spending so much time and resources on developing a mobile app, the launch day will be a day of fun and pride for you. However, in preparation for launch day, you must still focus on marketing the project. You want your mobile app to receive plenty of traction and visibility, especially in the first few weeks after the launch of the mobile app.

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Quality Assurance Testing

After launching your mobile app, you must conduct quality assurance testing regularly. You want to ensure that your mobile app is working well and consistently at all times. Your maintenance team will conduct quality assurance testing and change your mobile app as needed.

If you need a simple yet customized mobile app built, you can expect to spend about $35,000 to $50,000. A mid-level design will cost anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000. A complex, high-end mobile app will easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Companies don’t charge the same amount for the development of a mobile app, but prices generally start at $150 per hour.

If you want to save money when it comes to creating a mobile app, going overseas is an option. While you won’t necessarily end up with a bad-quality mobile app, the end product may not be what you expected. You won’t have as much power and control if you decide to hire your team overseas.

If you don’t receive what you want, there’s not much you can do to fix the situation. You should try to have some aspects of the mobile app completed in the United States. That way, there is someone you can turn to for parts of the project. Outsourcing an entire mobile app creation project overseas can be incredibly risky.

Therefore, you should try to work with a US- or global-based company.

The timing for the creation of a mobile app also depends on the complexity of the app. A simple mobile app could take just a few hundred hours to develop, while a complex one could take tens of thousands of hours to create.

Here, we share some of our most popular articles on a range of apps – which are worth checking out as you consider your options around app development. You will get some good ideas on the pros/cons, what designs and features work well, and how these apps work on different types of devices.

Undoubtedly, creating a mobile app can be a very pricey endeavour. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about the cost of creating a mobile app or responsive website development.

Points To Consider When Hiring An App Developer:

Hourly Rate Ranges for App Developers

The experience level and title of app team members significantly impact hourly rates:

  • App Developers: $50-$150 per hour Entry level: $50-75 per hour Mid-level: $75-125 per hour Expert: $125-150 per hour
  • App Designers: $75-$175 per hour Entry level: $75-100 per hour Mid-level: $100-150 per hour Expert: $150-175 per hour
  • Project Managers: $75-$175 per hour Entry level: $75-125 per hour Mid-level: $125-150 per hour Expert: $150-175 per hour

Higher demand skills like Swift, React Native, and AR/VR development command rates at the top of these ranges.

Cost Ranges by App Complexity

App costs largely depend on the complexity level:

Simple Apps: $25,000 – $100,000 Characteristics: Basic features, simple interface, short development timeframe Example: Task management, single-purpose utility app

Moderate Apps: $100,000 – $500,000 Characteristics: Multiple advanced features, complex interfaces, long development
Example: Multi-featured lifestyle apps, simple games

Complex Apps: $500,000+ Characteristics: Data-intensive, highly complex functionality, lengthy development
Example: High-end games, enterprise platforms

Features That Increase Cost

Specific features that boost app complexity include:

  • Custom animations and effects
  • 3D modeling and AR/VR
  • Advanced admin dashboards
  • Complex user flows and workflows
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities
  • Data visualizations and analytics
  • Tight integration with APIs and other systems
  • Extra platform support (both iOS and Android)

Post-Launch Maintenance Costs

Post-launch costs involve:

  • Developer retainers for ongoing bug fixes and feature updates
  • Monthly or annual app store fees
  • Server hosting fees start at ~$25/month.
  • Marketing and user acquisition costs

Budget for at least 20% of initial dev costs for annual maintenance.

Controlling App Costs

Strategies for lower costs include:

  • Carefully define must-have features vs. nice-to-haves
  • Start with a minimum viable product (MVP) and iterate
  • Leverage reusable code components and templates
  • Consider lower-cost outsourced developers
  • Set clear requirements and scope boundaries
  • Get cost benchmarks from other comparable apps

Make an App FAQ

How much does it cost to make an app like Uber?

An on-demand ridesharing app with similar scope and complexity to Uber can cost upwards of $500,000+ to develop. Key technical features like real-time GPS tracking, in-app messaging and payments, algorithmic pricing, and advanced admin dashboards add significant development time and expense.

How much does it cost to make a simple database app?

A simple database-driven app with basic CRUD (create, read, update, delete) functionality and clean UI can be developed for $25,000 – $75,000. Costs go up if complex queries, analytics, or integrations are required.

What is a typical budget for a game app?

Mobile game app costs vary greatly based on complexity. A simple 2D game with basic mechanics and graphics can be built for $50,000 – $250,000. More complex 3D games with detailed artwork and back-end infrastructure can easily exceed $500,000+.

Should I build for iOS or Android first?

It is generally recommended to start with iOS app development first due to typically higher revenue potential per user. Supporting both major platforms doubles the cost. Build for Android after validating demand on iOS first.

Can I get an app built for free?

While some very basic apps can be DIYed for free using app builders, it is extremely unlikely to get a custom-built app with solid functionality and design for $0. Professional developer rates start at $50 per hour at minimum.

How long does app development take?

Development timelines vary based on app complexity, but a typical range is 4-12+ months for a production-ready version one release. Simple apps can be built in 1-3 months, while complex apps take over 12 months.

Make an App: Conclusion

A data-driven approach to building app cost assumptions through hourly rate analysis, complexity assessments, feature evaluation, and benchmarking will help set realistic budgets and maximize the value of your custom mobile app investment.

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