If you have already searched for information about app development, the key question you probably want an answer to is “how much does it cost to make an app?”

To mention upfront, the cost to create an app is very hard to estimate and the sum can vary from $15,000 to $300,000+ for one platform. Note, that a minimum budget to build an app is around $10,000 for a very basic project. In most cases, this price will increase on average up to $60,000 for the first, simple app version.

Such a big discrepancy in app development price is due to the factors like app type, number and complexity of features, design uniqueness, location and rates of IT vendor you choose, expenses on marketing, QA, and so on.

Studies of Clutch and Outsystems confirm this wide range of potential project cost from $5,000 to $500,000+ and a timeline of 1 to 9+ months. Goodfirm’s research indicates that the cost to make an app of a complex functionality is around $70,000 - $150,000 and the app with minimum feature-set - $40,000 to $60,000.

This guide is intended to give you a detailed explanation of everything that makes up the cost of creating an app and a few up-to-date app price options you can choose among.

Let’s not waste any more time and get right into the subject.

Factors That Determine App Development Cost

As mentioned, there is no precise answer to the question “how much does it cost to develop an app?” because the price depends on factors, namely:

  • Project type (social, on-demand delivery, e-commerce, healthcare, etc.)
  • Type of vendor you choose (freelancers, IT agency)
  • Vendor’s location (country)
  • Vendor’s rate
  • Number and complexity of features
  • Number of platforms (iOS, Android, web)
  • Design complexity (basic, custom, use of animations)

This list requires some explanations, doesn’t it? Further on, you will find details on each point.

Freelancers vs. App Development Agency

The two main types of vendors that can create an app for you are freelancers and agencies.

If you decide to work with freelancers to build an app, you will receive the following advantages:

  • Cheap app development
  • Constant communication with the developer only

At the same time, weigh the risks:

  • The need to find freelancers for all required services
  • Lower quality of software development services
  • Limited accountability and transparency
  • Team management on your side
  • Additional paperwork

On the contrast, professional app development requires teamwork and people who are used to work on the same project.

If your choice is to work with a custom software development company, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Trustworthy relations
  • Quality of deliverables
  • All or the majority of needed services in one place
  • Schedule and discipline
  • Project management
  • Accountability

Disadvantages of working with companies that make apps:

  • Higher rates
  • More bureaucracy

In spite of having to spend more money and deal with more paperwork, app development companies usually give a sense of security and confidence that is worth the cost.

The overall experience of cooperation with freelancers and agencies can be summarized in the table below:

Freelance App Developers vs. App Development Companies
Freelance App Developers vs. App Development Companies

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App Developers' Location

Location is the next major factor that can influence the cost of developing an app significantly.

The most popular app development destinations worldwide are North America (mainly the USA), Latin America, Eastern Europe (Ukraine), and Asia (India).

So, how much does it cost to create an app in these regions? Let’s review the latest data about how much app developers charge per hour to figure it out.

Employee Title Ukraine Western Europe Eastern Europe North America
Business Analyst $30-$50 $55-$80 $35-$45 $60-$75
Architect $35-$65 $90-$120 $40-$70 $90-$130
Project Manager $30-$40 $55-$65 $35-$45 $90-$110
Jr. Developer $20-$40 $40-$50 $25-$35 $50-$70
Mid-level Developer $25-$50 $45-$65 $30-$40 $60-$80
Sr. Developer $35-$60 $65-$80 $40-$50 $75-$105
Lead Developer $35-$65 $70-$90 $40-$55 $90-$115
Junior QA $15-$25 $35-$45 $20-$30 $45-$60
Mid-level QA $25-$35 $45-$55 $30-$40 $60-$75
Senior QA $30-$45 $50-$65 $35-$45 $75-$90

App development cost in India, Pakistan, and other Asian countries is usually less than $25/hour. In South America, which is considered to be another popular outsourcing destination, the rates are between the ranges of Western and Eastern European rates.

The highest development costs will be required if you choose vendors from the US with $70 to $100 rate. Eastern Europe, Ukraine in particular, will offer you a more attractive average cost for app development of $ 30 to $60/hour. This region is very reasonable to work; you get good quality, for a moderate app development price and do not overpay for a company’s brand.

Simple Features vs. Complex Feature Set

An app’s complexity defines how much time you will need to build each feature and thus, how much it will cost.

The following table shows you an approximate app development timeline by complexity:

Basic version Medium app Large app (few platforms
Notes core feature-set (e.g. simple login, email subscription
standard, simple design elements
1 platform

more features (e.g. payments, integrations, analytics)
more complex design
1 platforms

complex app development (e.g. video-streaming, data encryption, offline mode, etc.)
custom app design, animations
app support
2+ platforms


Time ~3-6 months ~4-9 months 9+ months (ongoing)

Сomplexity matters when it comes to the cost of making an app. If your budget is limited, think about prioritizing features to fit within that price range.

As well, keep in mind that native apps (those developed specifically to run on iOS or Android) are much better than those that are cross-platform. They are also more expensive, but the overall result and their performance make the cost worthwhile.

The core features that are widely used in many digital projects are as follows:

  • User login/ registration - via email, Facebook, phone number with verification. The most user-friendly sign-up option is via social network. Basic implementation of the login feature takes around 20 - 25 hours.

  • Chat - P2P chat can be developed in ~50 - 65 hours. This timeline also depends on functions like chat history, auto-delete, offline mode, emojis, file transfer, and other elements. Group-chat is more complex to develop and may take around 80+ hours.

  • Search - users may search for goods, information, or services inside the app per one or more categories. A basic search function can be completed in ~12 -15+ hours. More complex search requests need more of an investment.

  • Push notifications - a key method through which many apps communicate with users. Alerts, SMS notifications, and warnings provide users with relevant and up-to-date information (e.g. messaging apps). The simplest text form of this feature can be developed in ~12 - 15 hours.

  • Payments - in-app payments can be made with credit cards, services like PayPal, Payoneer, Apple or Google wallets, or even with cash. Technologies like Stripe and Braintree are mostly used to implement payment functionality and a minimum of 50 - 65 hours is necessary.

  • In-app purchases - another variant to monetize your app with options like purchase of goods and services, pay for subscriptions, add features, remove ads, and so on. The average time to develop this functionality is around 20 - 30 hours.

  • Analytics - collects data from user activity and app performance with the help of integrated services like Flurry, Google Analytics, etc. The most basic form can be implemented in ~ 2 - 5 hours.

More complex implementation features are as follows:

  • Geolocation- a core feature for apps like Uber, dating apps, businesses, travel products, etc. The ability to locate the user device and use of GPS can be implemented in approximately 32 - 48 hours.

  • Integrations (Google Maps) - can be integrated in iOS and Android apps to supplement geolocation features for navigation and routing; takes around 32- 40 hours.

  • Ads - integration of promotional and marketing material inside an app depends on the type (e.g text, banner, full-screen pop-up), the chosen library, service, and APIs. Approximately 8- 16 hours are typically spent on simple banner placement.

  • Offline mode - the availability of app data without an internet connection. The amount of data and its storage (e.g. cookies, local storage, database) influences the amount of time needed for development, which can be up to 80 hours.

  • Data encryption - this feature can be used to secure messaging with end-to-end encryption, where only the receiver has the necessary decoding protocol. To eliminate unauthorized access, a minimum of 16- 24 hours are needed and the process depends on the data being encrypted (text, image, video, etc.).

  • Video/audio streaming - this is rather hard to implement, but can be done in 56 - 72+ hours. This timeline is influenced by data transmission, processing, software logic, file formats, streaming protocols, server setup, and other settings.

  • Connectivity with a device - the app’s use of a device’s hardware, like NFC, Bluetooth, barometers, gyroscopes, accelerometers, etc. Around 16 - 24 hours are required to build this feature. There is no need to develop any back-end.

Platform: iOS or Android

How much does it cost to make an app for iOS or Android?

Your choice of a platform also influences the cost of app development. The main factor that determines whether you need to make an app for iOS or Android is the audience you would like to reach.

Android vs. iOS Market Share 2019
Android vs. iOS Market Share 2019

There are fewer devices that run on iOS than on Android. A good market analysis will help you choose the best options.

If you need to make an app for one platform only, there will be no difference in app cost, be it iOS or Android. However, if you decide to build a mobile app for both platforms, be ready to spend more money.

Design Complexity

App design influences the whole process of creating an app. The more complex the design, the more expensive your application becomes.

Simple app design mainly consists of standard, platform-specific elements that are quite easy to implement and will not take much time. Adding custom elements and animations increase design complexity and thus the app design cost.

Let’s look at some examples of app screens of various complexities. The first image shows what simple app design looks like:

Example of Simple App Design
Example of Simple App Design

The more advanced design of your application can be as follows:

App design of Medium Complexity
App design of Medium Complexity

If you want to design an app in a very complex way, see the following example to understand what is meant by expensive design elements:

Complex app design
Complex app design

Now you understand what the differences between the three levels of design complexity are and how they influence development cost.

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

If you are thinking of developing an app, you should understand that this process includes much more than application design and coding.

Let’s give a detailed answer to the question “how much does it cost to make an app?” step by step.

1. Expenses for Business Analysis

Very often, a service like business analysis is underestimated. Some people don’t see the value it can give in the process of app development. In fact, this stage is compulsory, especially if you don’t know how to make an app out of your idea.

Below are key activities a business analyst performs during this stage:

  • Identify a problem
  • Identify and define project value
  • Define, understand, and verify business scope
  • Analyze (mind map, competitor analysis, etc.)
  • Produce a business solution
  • Conduct a workshop (requirements elicitation and management, documentation development, testing, support)
  • Produce best possible solution based on market needs
  • Work on enhancements (change management, support)

A lot of work, isn’t it? Is further app development possible and effective without it? The answer is no.


How much does it cost to make an app strategy? Taking the average hourly rate in Ukraine ($40/hour) as the basis, business analysis may cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000+ depending on requirements and app complexity.


2. App Design Cost

Let’s do what we’ve done before and divide app design into three categories based on complexity: simple app design, design of a larger complexity, and complex app design.

Based on the categories mentioned above, approximate app design costs will be as follows:

Simple Design More Complex Design Complex Design
Design Cost (hourly rate - $40) $5,000-$10,000 $10,000-$20,000 $25,000+

Please keep in mind that these numbers are very rough and that you will need to consult professional app developers to have a more precise idea of how much your app design may cost.

Want to get the full information about the cost of mobile app design?

We have the complete cost breakdown for that. Read the article How Much Does It Cost to Design an App? to learn more.

3. Cost of App Development

“How much does it cost to make an app?” is a complicated question because every application has different needs and thus budgets.

Nevertheless, to give you an approximate idea of how much an app can cost, check the table below. It represents the described app features and the approximate cost for their basic implementation.

Please note: the average Ukrainian rate of $40/hour is taken for this calculation.

App Feature Description Comment Time Cost for back end and Android ($)
Registration/Login Users can register/login with an email - Restore password included ~ 20 - 25+ hours $800 - $1,000
Payments Users can make credit card payments (Braintree) - Users can add/remove a credit card (list of cards) to/from their profile and pay with them ~ 50 - 65+ hours $2,000 - $2,600
In-app purchases Users can make basic in-app purchases - One non-consumable In-App (e.g. unlock a feature)
- Each subsequent In-App adds some percentage of original estimate
~ 20 - 30+ hours $800 - $1,200
Search Users can search for one type of entity by one criterion - Each subsequent entity influences the estimate ~ 12 - 15+ hours $500 - $600
User profile As a user I can manage profile (basic) - Personal information (text fields, birthday, gender), 1 photo ~ 15 - 20+ hours $600 - $800
Chat Users can chat (basic) - List of chats
- Send text message or image, list of messages (with time and user avatar)
- Push notifications for new message and new chat

~ 62 - 80+ hours $2,500 - $3,200
Report abuse Users can report an entity (content or another user) - List with possible reporting reasons
- Each subsequent entity increases estimate
~ 10 - 12+ hours $400 - $500
Push notifications Integration of a push notification module (hidden for a user) - Specific push notification implementation influences the estimate
- Unsubscribe from push notifications if a user is logged out
~ 12 - 15+ hours $500 - $600
Analytics Basic integration with analytics (hidden for users) - One Analytics tool (except Fabric)
- Flurry or Google Analytics/ Firebase or MixPanel
- Basic SDK configuration (minimum analytics - OS versions, devices etc.), screen tracking for Android
- Development, staging, production


~ 2 - 5+ hours
for each tool
$100 - $200
CMS: Admin authorization Admins can register, log in, and log out - Log in, log out ~ 8 - 12+ hours $350 - $500
CMS: Admin management Admins can manage other admins - CRUD on administrators
- Full name, email
~ 6 - 10+ hours $250 - $400
CMS: User management Admins can manage app users - Basic sorting, filtering and searching (by name, by email, by ID) included ~ 20 - 37+ hours $800 - $1,500
CMS: Reported entity management Admins can manage reported entities - One entity (a photo or user or post), each subsequent entity adds % to the estimate
- Can be removed
- Sorting by amount of claims

~ 10 - 15+ hours $400 - $600

Note: the approximate cost of the listed features does not include the time for communication with a client, QA specialist, and project manager.

Of course, the choice regarding app functionality is much wider. The ones you choose will reflect the specifics of your project, the type it belongs to (e.g. social, on-demand delivery, etc.) and defines the total cost of building an app.

Let’s briefly review the features that require more complicated implementation and thus will be time-consuming and add to your mobile app cost.

Feature Comment Time Cost
Use of device’s hardware (NFC, Bluetooth, barometers, gyroscopes, accelerometers, heart rate sensors) No back-end development required 16 - 24 hours for each component $650 - $1,000 for each component
Geolocation Back-end development included 32 - 48 hours $1,500 - $2,000
Integration with Google Maps Back-end development included 32 - 40 hours $1,300 - $1,600
Ads Highly depends on a chosen library. No back-end development required. 8 - 16 hours $350 - $700
Offline mode Highly depends on the amount of app data.
No back-end development required to implement the feature, but the app should have back end to collect data.
Up to 80 hours About $3,500
Data encryption Encryption of the data transferred from a mobile app to its back end should be done by default. We will estimate offline mode data encryption. 16 - 24 hours $650 - $1,000
Video/audio streaming Back-end development included 56 - 72 hours $2,300 - $3,000

Note: data regarding time and cost is calculated for one platform only, the need for back-end development varies.

So, how much does it cost to develop an app? From the information above, it becomes clear that you will receive no precise answer until your application has been discussed by a team and exact technical aspects have been defined.

Interested in building your own successful digital business?

Contact our team and receive a free consultation and preliminary project estimate. Our team, consisting of a software architect and business analyst, will help you to elaborate on your idea for the greater outcome.

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Let’s go on to review what else is required for a custom app development and how much it may cost.

4. Price to Pay for Project Management

Project management is a very time-consuming activity that is also included in the cost of an app. To give you a general idea of what project managers usually deal with, take a look at the list below:

  • Project budget - prevent budget overrun
  • Scope of work - ensure that a team is doing the right work on a project and has correct tasks
  • Schedule - ensure that the team completes all tasks on time
  • Quality - prevent bad releases and set priorities for bug fixes and improvements
  • Resources - ensure that a project has appropriate team members who will do their job well
  • Risks - prevent them or be ready to fix them if they occur
  • Communication - ensure that all project members communicate with each other and that their communication brings value to the project
  • Problem-solving - be able to solve any issues that might occur in the process of work

As a rule, all good software development companies offer project management as a service. Payment models for this service differ; some companies charge hourly rates, others have a fixed price to pay for a definite period.


If you calculate roughly at $40/hour, the average cost may start at $7,000 and go beyond $35,000, depending on the project and its timeline.


5. Quality Assurance: How Much Would It Cost

If someone tells you that they can create an app with no bugs at all, take it with a pinch of salt. It is unreal to cover all possible cases through tests.

The main goals of testing are:

  • Increase the chances that the app being tested will work correctly under all circumstances
  • Increase the chances that the app being tested will meet all the specified requirements
  • Provide up-to-date information about the present state of the app

As you can see, quality assurance only increases the likelihood that your mobile app will work as it should, but no one can guarantee that its performance will be 100% perfect.

To minimize issues with app quality, having a QA engineer test your app is a must. In the process of making an app, quality assurance usually consists of the following steps:

  • Requirements gathering
  • Test discussions and planning
  • Test development
  • Test execution
  • Test summary report

A great deal of work, isn’t it? How much does it cost to test an app?


QA services may cost anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 and beyond based on the average Ukrainian rate of $40/hour. If you want your mobile app to perform well, these expenses are reasonable.


6. Cost of App Release

How much does it cost to launch an app? Launching your application on the market starts with its submission to the an app store. Compared to the other expenses, the cost of app release is not that high.

To have access to the stores, you need to buy a developer account:

  • Google Play app store fee is $25, paid once
  • Apple Store fee is $99 and should be paid yearly

If you want to distribute your application solely within your organization, the fee will be different for the Apple App Store (Apple Developer Enterprise Program will cost you $299 per year), while Google Play will not charge any extra money.

In the image below, you will see the list of information that should be prepared before submission.

Information Required to Put an App on an App Store
Information Required to Put an App on an App Store

Some of the listed materials will cost you nothing, but others will be quite the opposite. Legal questions like copyright and privacy policy usually require some time and legal services that are not cheap.

How much does it cost to put an app on the app store if a development company helps you? App release may take different amounts of time depending on the scope of work to be done by the company. In terms of cost, it will be calculated based on an hourly rate.

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain an App?

Maintenance is necessary for your application even if you have no new features on your plan; maintenance is more than just adding functionality and cannot be ignored in any case.

App maintenance includes:

  • Upgrading to the latest OS versions
  • Upgrading an app to the latest versions of third-party services
  • Upgrading an app with new technologies
  • Fixing bugs
  • Code improvement and optimization
  • Adding new features
  • Controlling app stability
  • Controlling the performance of servers
  • Scaling applications

Development is a continuous process. As they say, your life will never be the same again if you want your app to be successful.

As a rule, development companies offer a few options when it comes to app maintenance costs:

  1. Full-time work (ongoing) - for a fixed fee paid per month/ semi-weekly etc.
  2. On-demand service - based on the hourly rates like the development

Additionally, you should not forget about the following regular payments:

  • Registration and use of a domain name - $10-$15/year
  • Hosting on servers - $40-$200/year

Now, let’s find out whether it could be profitable to not hire anyone and instead work on your application by yourself.

How Much Does It Cost to Make an App by Yourself

If you want to know how to make an app for free, we can only disappoint you: there is no way. Even building an app by yourself will still cost some money.

There are two possible options in this case:

Planning, developing, and testing an app using your technical skills
Using special app building tools that create template applications

When building an app by yourself, you need to have good knowledge of coding and know how to test an app correctly. Additionally, you will need to buy a powerful computer, good development software, and mobile devices with required OSs. All of these appliances will be heavy users of energy, which you will also need to pay for.

You might also want to try online app development tools as an option. How much does it cost to make an app online?

Online app builders usually have free trial periods, but the average fee is $10 - $150 per month. More expensive ones can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000+ monthly.

These tools offer drag and drop features, so no coding skills are required. However, they usually have limited feature sets, no opportunity to add extra or custom design, and lower quality. Chances are that app stores will decline apps made this way. Not a very promising perspective, is it?

How Much Does It Cost To Create an App: Real Examples

App development companies receive many questions from potential clients every day and the main is“how much does it cost to develop an app like Uber?” or “tell me the cost to create an app like Instagram.”

These may seem to be simple questions to answer, but realistically, they are not. Let’s review real examples of some world-famous applications to compare approximate app development cost estimates based on our experience and the real numbers.

  • Instagram’s initial funding in the seed round was $500,000 for an iPhone app only.

  • Uber raised $200,000 during the seed funding round and this money was spent on its beta version.

  • WhatsApp messenger received $250,000 in seed funding back in 2009. This money was spent to improve its existing beta version for iPhone and led to it becoming one of the best iOS apps in 2011.

  • Postmates, a successful on-demand delivery app, was first funded by the startup incubator AngelPad ($20,000 from itself and $100,000 from two VC companies).

We have estimated the approximate budgets necessary to build these apps, their basic version. All the calculations are made with a $40/hour rate, an average hourly rate in Ukraine.

How Much does it Cost to Develop an App Like Instagram, Uber, WhatsApp or Postmates?
How Much does it Cost to Develop an App Like Instagram, Uber, WhatsApp or Postmates?

How MLSDev Provides a Mobile App Development Cost Estimate

How much does it cost to make an app at MLSDev?

During the initial communication, our team works on the technical and business requirements, a project mind map, and a proposal that lists the best solution, a detailed cost estimate of the Discovery stage, and a rough estimate and timeline for the Development stage.

The first phase of cooperation is the Discovery stage, wherein you receive a more precise answer to the question: “how much does it cost to make an app for your project?” The team, made up of a Business Analyst, Software Architect, Designers, and Project Manager, prepares the following:

  • Finalized project concept
  • UX/UI design
  • Product backlog
  • Functional specification
  • Project architecture plan
  • Market & Competitor analysis (on demand)
  • More accurate app development cost breakdown and timeline

During the Development phase, our team implements the necessary functionality, applies the user interface, and launches the app.

How much does it cost to make an app?

Let’s discuss your app concept so that we can elaborate on your idea, functionality, design specifics, and more. We will create a project proposal offering the most optimal solution to achieve success, and an approximate app cost and timeline.

Get your free app estimate

Next comes the Discovery stage, where the team discusses and validates the scope of work and the estimate, and outlines the plan for project development. The outcome of this work is an accurate budget calculation in the form of an app development cost breakdown and an accurate delivery date.

Total Mobile App Development Cost

Let’s revise the cost of mobile app development services by app complexity, taking into account that an app will be built by a development team in Ukraine.

Basic version (minimum feature set, 1 platform) Full product (more features and design of a larger complexity, 1 platform) Large app (complex app design, development, and support, 2+ platforms)
UX/UI Design $5,000+ $15,000+ $25,000+
Custom Development $40,000+ $95,000+ $200,000+
Quality Assurance $5,000+ $15,000+ $25,000+
Project Management $7,500+ $15,000+ $35,000+
Business Analysis $2,500+ $10,000+ $15,000+
Total setup $60,000+ $150,000+ $300,000+
Time ~3-6 months ~4-9 months 9+ months (ongoing)

Please, remember that this app development cost breakdown is not final because each case differs.

The more a team knows about your application before you sign a contract and start working on it, the higher the chances are that their app development cost estimate will be as precise as possible.

At MLSDev, we follow a custom software development and customer-oriented approach because we value cooperation with our clients, care about their long-term success, and act with integrity. If you like these principles and are looking for someone to estimate your project well, we are always ready to help you.

! Bonus & Detailed Infographic for App Development Cost

Our team has prepared some ultimate guides listing the key functionality, business strategies, and some cost and timeline estimates if you plan to develop projects similar to:

Check this all in one infographic to have a complete overview of what makes the total cost to build an app.

How Much Does it Cost to Make an App: Infographics
How Much Does it Cost to Make an App: Infographics

Frequently Asked Questions:

⏳ How much time does it take to develop an app from scratch?
Сomplexity and number of functionality matters when it comes to the app development timeline. It is necessary to spend~3-5 months to build an app with a core-feature set like simple login, email subscription ad with simple design elements for one platform. If you want to create a more complex app, this timeline will extend to 6-9+ months.
📱 For which platform should I develop my app first - Android or iOS?
To decide which operating system to target, you need to clarify what audience you would like to reach. Thus, think about conducting solid market research to define what devices and platforms your target audience uses the most. In general, there are fewer devices that run on iOS than on Android.
💻 Freelancers vs App development company
The advantages of working with freelancers are relatively lower app development costs. On the other hand, this cooperation has lots of connected risks like lower service quality, management of the process is on your side, limited accountability and transparency. You can remove these risks when working with a software development company and make use of benefits like project management, accountability, and discipline.
🤔 Why app development outsourcing to India is not the best idea in most cases?
The IT outsourcing region of India is attractive with one of the lowest development rates. On the contrary, be prepared to face drawbacks like the substantial cultural difference, which influences the cooperation process and mutual understanding. There are high chances that the result you receive will not match your expectations in terms of functionality, design, and code quality. To mention, piracy is common in the region where developers can simply reuse some other's code.