How Much Does It Cost to Build An App? Key Factors
Tech Insights

App Development: How Much Does It Cost To Build an App

Joana Almeida
Software Developer - - - 3 min. to read

How much does it cost to build an app in 2024? Depending on the complexity, a basic app including features like user interface, log in and other minimal functionalities generally costs between $30,000 to $50,000. 

Yet, building an app includes several other costs, from hiring a development team, marketing, maintenance and so on. As most companies are expanding their businesses and sales online, a mobile app is crucial to expand any type of company, from startups to established businesses. But what is the actual budget for building an app? 

Let’s find out! 

The Average Cost of Building an App: A Breakdown 

To calculate how much it costs to build an app exactly there are several factors to consider. The first question that could come to mind is if a mobile app is a necessary investment for a company. In short, yes. Recent app development price statistics show how mobile apps often lead to significant benefits for companies. The mobile app revenue grew from $318 billion in 2020 to a prediction of over $600 billion in 2025. Every month, the Play Market counts over 100,000 new apps, and the Apple Store over 30,000.

The starting point of any app development cost breakdown is the type of operating system. 

There are 3 main options for app mobile development: 

Operating System Average Costs 
iOS app$75,000-$500,000
Android app $50,000-$500,000
Hybrid app$90,000-$700,000

In addition, you can build a cross-platform app. Similar to a hybrid app, this method allows the development of software applications compatible with multiple mobile devices. While with hybrid apps you can have one development team writing a software running on both iOS and Androids, with cross-platforms apps you might need to develop specific frameworks and the range of prices varies depending on the business’ scale. 

This first decision will impact your project’s average starting budget and guide you in deciding which features to invest in. For example, a native Android app is generally slightly more convenient than iOS apps because it is compatible with more devices and has a freer publishing process. On the other hand, a cross-platform app can cut costs as it runs on both Android and iOS, and you can hire only one development team. 

Besides the operational system, industry-specific factors highly impact the final budget for app development. For example, delivery or food apps are usually cheaper as they require basic and straightforward functionalities like menu display or login for order processing. On the other hand, streaming apps or e-commerce require more complex functionalities and secure payment gateways, which drive development costs up. 

Let’s jump into different types of mobile applications for an overview of their development costs:

App Development Average Costs Based on Application Type

Application Type Description Development Costs (Average Prices) 
Simple AppSingle-purpose apps like clocks or calculators are the cheapest to develop, as they don’t require an Internet connection or complex features. $10,000-$30,000
Apps for personalized data and authenticationApps for food delivery or digital payments require handling personal user’s data, which impacts the costs for secure gateways and data protection. $40,000-$80,000
Social network appsSocial network apps like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter require chats, videos, and several simultaneous interactions from the user, increasing the development process’s general costs.  $50,000-$300,000
E-commerce appsFor eCommerce apps, costs highly depend on required and chosen features such as catalogs, social integrations, user registration, etc. In general, these apps tend to be more expensive than other industry-specific apps because they require multiple necessary features for the design and user data protection. $60,000-$300,000
On-demand service appsOn-demand apps require features from eCommerce apps and social network apps. Like Uber or Swiggy, these apps must provide a single-point agenda – connecting the service providers with end-users and satisfy their requests.$70,000-$150,000
Marketplace appsSimilar to on-demand apps or ecommerce apps,marketplace applications provide several services for end users based on their specific needs. $80,000-$300,000
Offline Standalone Apps Not requiring internet connectivity or backend integration, offline standalone applications are in high demand. Generally simple and with limited features, these apps can operate independently, and they are most effective for games and calculator apps. $5,000 to $10,000
AI-based appsAI-based apps provide features like voice recognition, image processing, chatbots, etc. This type of app requires a complex development process and, more importantly, time and resources to train your software and implement human-like interaction.  $35000-$200,000
Cloud-based AppsCloud service apps allow to store and process data – Azure or AWS are good examples. Scalable and secure, these applications need complex programming and maintenance. $25,000-$100,000
Enterprise Apps
Designed for companies internal use, these apps include features like management, analytics, HR, security login or collaboration. $50,000-$150,000
IoT or Wearable AppsThese apps interact with smart devices, including smartwatches or fitness trackers, and require complex features like Bluetooth connectivity or sensors. $50,000-$150,000

4 Key Factors That Influence App Development Cost

These are the main factors that impact app development costs: 

1. Operational Systems and Platforms Supported

The first key cost driver is the operational platforms an app needs for support. 

A mobile app running on both iOS and Android requires double of the budget not only for the complexity but also for the development team. Furthermore, adding a web or desktop app option to a mobile platform will also increase the overall costs. Any implementation of codebases for each platform will require extensive testing on various devices and well as maintenance protocols. 

This first decision will impact the overall costs of your project. In this case, you can rely on an app development cost calculator to compare the general prices of different operating systems. 

Without a clear list of features and requirements, these apps cannot give you an exact budget. However, they are good support for making this a first decision and having an overview to compare different platforms.

2. Complexity of Features and Functionality

The complexity of the app and mobile features highly impact the final costs of your mobile app. Any feature you will add to your mobile app is translated into developer hours and team resources. 

To start, app design and user experience highly impact the costs of a mobile app. A smooth and polished user experience is essential to keep your customers navigating your app. And more elaborated animations or visual effects require design skills and time to develop and test. Furthermore, if you want to offer customized common UI elements, you need to consider more programming time and resources from your team. 

Here are the main categories for features and functionalities driving app development costs:


    • Industry of the App: The industry dictates a few of the other features on the list.
    • Version of the Product: From initial design to fully-featured app, and anything in between, such as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
    • Required platforms: iOS, Android, and others.
    • UI Complexity: Should UI be themed according to the brand? Include animations?
    • Communication with other physical devices: Either through WiFi, Bluetooth, or another technology.
    • The number of roles for the app: Should the app have different interfaces and user experiences based on the user’s permissions? Common roles include customer service provider (e.g., a specific shop and its employees) and service manager (e.g., the whole brand’s manager).

    In-App Management

      • Multi-language support
      • Log-in methods: These can be any combination of e-mail, social network accounts, or text messages.
      • User payments: Does the app offer services for a price? How is that amount collected? Once when downloaded? One-time fees? Periodically? Each will require different methods of payment.


        • Feeds and Timelines: Either owner-generated or user-generated or possibly both.
        • Types of Content: Text, photos, audio, video, live streaming, etc.
        • User-to-user communication: Chats and Calls.
        • Geo-location: This can be as easy as placing pins on a map to very complicated by calculating routes and directions.
        • Scheduling activities: Either in a calendar for the user only, or reserving time slots in an external schedule.
        • Push Notifications


          • Integration with 3rd Party APIs
          • Gratification mechanics: Such as Likes and Ratings.
          • Gamification

          Security and Maintenance

            • Level of Security: From authorization, email confirmations, etc.
            • Compliance with standards: Health information and Data Privacy Laws will force some of these.

            3. Developer and Designer Rates

              The hourly rates of developers and designers are the third major cost factor. Skills and experience levels are the major factor impacting the hourly rate. However, you have different options to cut costs down. 

              For example, you need support for animation design but not a full-time designer. In this case, you can hire experienced freelancers for specific tasks instead of inexperienced full-time designers. On the other hand, freshly-graduated developers could be a better fit as they are more aware of new products and juggle between different coding languages. 

              Here are the 4 main strategies to build your development team and contain the costs based on your needs: 

              1. Freelancers

              Freelancers are a good option when you want to make an MVP and test out some features. Depending on their skill, drive, and the project’s complexity, they can also be a good solution to develop full applications from start to finish.

              Estimated Cost: Highly depends on the country of the freelancer in question. Hourly rates for mobile app developers in some select countries are as follows:

              CountryAverage Hourly Wage
              • One of the cheapest solutions, where you can get the product at a fraction of the price.
              • Depending on the reputation and skill of the freelancer, their work quality can range from great to bad.
              • Less accountability.

              2. Outsourcing

              Outsourcing provides the best ratio between the quality of the finished app and the price. Depending on the Outsourcing company’s location, you can get your project done for a fraction of the price you would with other companies and with equivalent or higher quality.

              Estimated Cost: You can easily find companies that provide you with a quality service for $25-$50 per expert per hour. It all comes down to the negotiation of features and hours required.

              • Extremely cost-effective.
              • Time-effective work.
              • Accountability.
              • Time differences between you and the outsourced team can impact communication and more.with your in-house team and slow down the project.
              • As you don’t have direct management over them, results and performance could be compromised resulting in lower quality or generalized results. 

              3. Local Recruitment Companies

              Local Companies are much like outsourcing companies, only they can be reached physically with minimal effort. 

              Estimated Cost: Much like outsourcing companies, a local company’s prices will be based on their estimated hours to complete the project. However, local agencies will usually have higher prices, ranging from $100-$150 per expert, depending on the locale.

              • No communication barriers.
              • High-quality work.
              • Accountability.
              • If you’re developing a highly locale-sensitive application, they can provide first-hand experience and test on-site.
              • Far costlier than outsourcing options with no visible quality improvements.

              4. Remote Recruitment for In-House Teams 

              If you want an app and full control over its development, the in-house team is the way to go. And you don’t need to have a physical office, as you can hire remote developers to form an international team. A remote in-house team is the safest option to remain cost-effective while expanding the available talent pool and promoting diversity of your staff.

              Estimated costs: Annual salary averages for needed positions to form a team are:

              JobAnnual Salary (Average)
              Senior Mobile App Developer$124,069
              Mobile App Developer$99,115
              UI Designer/Developer$78,880

              You’ll want at least one of each, but depending on the size of the app you’re creating you’ll need more than one, and also other specialists such as Quality Assurance (QA) analysts. Depending on the type of project and needed features you may also want to hire specialists in other fields such as Cloud Solutions, AR/VR, etc.

              • Full control over development.
              • You gain or cement a capable team able to deliver the product and provide support for it without the need for 3rd parties.
              • This can become a pricey option since your company will bear all of the management costs, from HR to employment taxes. However, you can offset some of these costs by hiring remotely, and you can invest in the quality of candidates instead of physical offices.

              Hidden App Development Costs

              It’s challenging to calculate how much does it cost to run an app per month. At least right from the start. While there are some fixed expenses that you can compare and set up, other costs are hidden or unexpected. For this reason, it’s always wise to save some of the budget for costs you and your team couldn’t anticipate – when you can at least! 

              Let’s have a look at the major hidden costs in app development to avoid unpleasant surprises.

              Maintenance Costs

                From fixing bugs, to adding features, to scalability, how much does it cost to maintain an app can often amount to over 20% of the initial development costs. Furthermore, technologies and software are changing with a crazy paste, and new versions or updated versions require new distributions and installations for the users. 

                Here is an overview of additional expenses that need extra budgeting thinking in terms of long-term post-launch costs:

                • Fees for third-party integrations and functional costs (SMS, push notifications, geolocations, payments getaways, etc.)
                • Management and admin costs (content production, team administration, etc.)
                • Infrastructural costs (server subscription payment, CDN, etc.)
                • Support charges (Application update, bug fixing, scalability and implementation.


                You are building an on-demand service app to resell clothes in the local area you are living in. Your initial budget for development is $80,000. 

                After the launch, the app maintenance could cost you over 20% of the initial budget, including expenses like app store registration and subscript, Cloud hosting services, infrastructure costs, etc., for a total of $20.000. 

                Additionally, expanding the business with new integrations and features will cost around $10,000 to $25,000 annually. Finally, new features mean new promotional strategies. So, your app marketing could also go 50% each year, let’s say around $75,000-$150,000.

                It might be difficult to clearly list what falls under the category of app maintenance, as every business has different requirements. However, as you can see from the example, it is essential to target part of the budget to ensure the effectiveness of your mobile app over time. 

                Marketing Costs

                  Promoting your products is as important as developing them. How can users learn about your brand-new mobile app if no one is talking about it? 

                  On a general level, we could say that the marketing budget for your app development should be at least two times the starting development price. For example, for an app costing $100,000, your marketing expenses should add up to $200,000 to $300,000 each year.

                  These costs include: 

                  • Social media ads
                  • SEO integrations and search engine ads
                  • Sales funnels
                  • Landing pages and content creation
                  • Copywriting
                  • Partnership and PRs
                  • Customer service management tools
                  • Email marketing tools
                  • Events and fairs

                  Marketing costs can often have a slower return than you would expect. However, investing in a solid marketing promotion will allow your business to expand and implement your mobile app based on the concrete needs of your users. 

                    Finally, HR and legal costs always impact a business more than you would expect. From the hiring process to select your candidates, to payroll, to team administration, your HR and legal team is the one that holds everything together. 

                    Besides your team salaries, you will need to pay taxes on your employees and business, as well as ensure all the legal rights to launch your mobile app. 

                    You can predict most of these costs up front when selecting the operational system. But there are other hidden costs. 

                    For example, hiring local or remote employees makes a difference not only in terms of salary, but also in terms of tax rates. Furthermore, if you expand your team, you will need to expand your HR to keep up with salary rates, contracts, etc. Legal and HR costs are never to be underestimated. 

                    Does Regions Influence in the Cost for App Development? 

                    Yes! A developer salary varies depending on their geographical locations. However, as we mentioned above, it’s important to consider the tax rates you will need to pay on remote employees.

                    Overseas markets for mobile development apps are extremely competitive, with emerging markets such as India or Poland delivering quality apps at a fraction of the price.

                    The main reason attributed for these competitive prices is due to the lower cost of living in those countries. As such, companies looking for quality services can hire these agencies and get lower budgets for the same product. However, always consider time zones when you select the area of outsourcing. 

                    For comparison’s sake, let’s review the prices for the same application with different hourly rates. For simplicity, let’s assume you are opening a job offer for 1 mobile developer for 400 hours of work (roughly 2 months). 

                    Here is how a salary comparison per region would look like:

                    CountryAverage Hourly WageCost of Development

                    India is one of the most competitive countries with the smallest average cost of development, being 8 times cheaper than the average US developer. Brazil, Mexico, and Poland are also very competitive markets with slightly higher wages, with Brazil and Mexico being about 5 times cheaper than their US counterparts and Poland about 4 times cheaper.


                    Hiring a mobile developer abroad can cut costs down for your app development, but it’s not necessarily the right answer, if you don’t know how to select the right candidate. Expanding the talent pool also means triplicating the applications you will receive. And without an effective hiring process, you risk spending more money looking for the right person than on your project. 

                    The answer to the question “How much does it cost to make an app?” highly depends on your decision-making and who you choose as part of this journey. And if you need help picking expert developers in the international pool, we can help! Our team is trained in spotting the best candidates everywhere in the world, and our HR can support you with contracts and payrolls even after the hiring process. We are here if you need us! 

                    Joana Almeida

                    Joana Almeida, with her diverse experience as a programmer and game developer, stands out for her technical writing prowess on DistantJob, a remote IT staffing agency. Her background in software development and video game programming, enhanced by her roles in consulting and freelancing, has sharpened her expertise in areas like game design,tech stacks, UI development, and software development.

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