App Development Cost: A Comprehensive Guide in 2023

Jeffery Thompson
Innovative Leader in Custom Software Solutions: Jeffery Thompson, Founder of BIT Studios
App Development
27 min read
Published: Mar 17, 2023
Updated: Mar 17, 2023
Image representing app development cost in 2023, including factors such as design, development, and testing

These days, businesses are always looking for ways to find their edge against the competition. One of the best ways to be on top of the competition is to have mobile app development.

But your app development cost can add up quickly, which may cause issues for your project. So, it is crucial to know how much an app will cost and prepare enough for it. It’s also important to understand what goes into your app budget.

This guide will look at the cost of app development in 2023. We’ll also discuss ways to get an accurate estimate for your mobile app development project.

Factors That Affect App Development Cost

Factors That Affect App Development Cost [Infographics]

When planning to develop a mobile app, it is crucial to know how much your app development cost will be. It will help you set your expectations and goals for your budget.

Here are other factors that influence app development costs:

Platform and Operating System

In app development, the type of platform and operating system you will use will affect how much it costs. Different platforms require different types of hardware and coding languages. These elements can result in different prices. The difficulty level and the time it takes to develop your app will also vary.

So, deciding which platform and operating system will benefit your business the most is essential. Make sure that you analyze and understand which ones your target market use.

Here are some of the platforms you can choose from:

  • Android. Most companies develop android apps due to the massive demand for Android mobile devices. Android apps allow them to reach more consumers worldwide.
  • iOS. The apps for this platform are usually more expensive to make. But they can have more features and are more stable than other apps.
  • Cross-platform. If you are looking for a cost-effective solution, cross-platform development may be the best option for you. It allows you to create apps that can run on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Complexity and Customization Needs of the App

The complexity and customization of mobile app development also affect its cost. If you want to add more features or customize your app, it will take more time and cost more money.

Complex development requires skilled developers who know how to code for mobile platforms. They are experts in navigating app design trends, such as user interface and optimization.

Developers will also need to create graphics and images for your app to make it look professional. These features can increase the cost of your project significantly.

Design and User Experience

Design and user experience are vital components of software development. Creating an app that users will find enjoyable and easy to use is essential. So, making your app attractive would be best.

To do this, developers must design the app to be accessible, intuitive, and attractive to their target audience. They also need to include features and functionality that make it easier for users to use and navigate the app.

Development Team

Aside from the design and complexity, the quality of the mobile app development team will also influence the cost. Companies usually hire app developers, designers, and testers to work on their apps. Working with a larger group may cost more, but it can result in a better app.

When hiring your development team, ensure they are familiar with different technologies. The rate of developers will depend on their experience and expertise.

Here are the ranges of developers’ hourly rates depending on their expertise:

  • iOS Developer: $45-$150+ per hour

Hiring iOS developers may be more expensive, but they can make your app more secure and reliable. They need to know fundamental languages like Objective C, Swift, and the Xcode IDE. They must also be familiar with frameworks and APIs such as Foundation and UIKit.

  • Android Developer: $25-$150+ Per Hour

If you are targeting Android users, you need to hire developers who are proficient in their technologies. They should be well-versed in Java, Android SDK, and Android Studio IDE. They must also be familiar with frameworks like Ionic, Corona, and Material Foundation.

  • React Native Developer: $25-$150+ Per Hour

React Native is a JavaScript framework that can help you develop a hybrid app. It uses JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to make the development process faster. React Native developers are experts in making modular UI components that will work on both Apple and Android phones.

  • Xamarin Developer: $25-$150+ Per Hour

Xamarin is a free, open-source app platform for creating mobile apps. It’s perfect if you want to make apps for both iOS and Android phones. It uses C# programming language and the .NET framework to develop apps. If your technology stack uses Microsoft’s ecosystem and .NET technologies, hiring a Xamarin developer is ideal.

Maintenance and Updates

When developing an app, it’s essential to consider the cost of maintenance and updates. Your company must prepare for additional charges if you want to keep the app running smoothly and up to date. These include a mobile app development cost for hosting fees, bug fixes, and compatibility repairs.

Moreover, you may need regular updates for new features or security measures, which can affect the development budget. Businesses must consider these extra costs when making a budget for software development.

Security Requirements

Businesses should also prioritize app security when developing their app. Doing so can help prevent costly data breaches and other problems in the future.

So, your developers must be aware of various app security protocols and standards. For example, they must be familiar with encryption algorithms and authentication methods. They will use these measures to ensure hackers can’t infiltrate your app.

However, these security measures can add to the app development budget since developers need more time to code them. Still, the added charge will be worth it in the long run, as you won’t need to worry about app safety.

App Store Fees

You must pay a registration fee when submitting your app to app stores. Apple and Google have app store fees that businesses must pay before they can list their app.

It is also essential to consider other app store fees, such as service or maintenance charges. You must remember these incremental costs when budgeting an app development cost.

For reference, here are the app store fees:

  • Apple

The Apple Developer Program has an annual fee of $99. They also offer an Enterprise Program, which costs $299. For subscription and in-app purchases, Apple charges 30% yearly. However, their prices may vary depending on your region.

  • Google Play

Google Play Store charges 15% for developers with total annual revenue of less than $1M (USD). Meanwhile, they charge 30% for those earning more than that amount.

  • Microsoft Store

Unlike the other two, Microsoft Store only requires developers to pay $19 for an individual account. But app development companies must pay $99 for an enterprise account.

Marketing and Promotion

Besides development fees, businesses must consider app marketing and promotion costs. Getting the word out about your app is essential so more people can use it.

You can do app marketing by creating a website or social media posts. You can also send press releases and run digital ad campaigns for more exposure. However, these efforts require a budget and can significantly add to the app development cost.

Location of Developers

Location can also affect development costs. For example, an expert app developer in the United States charges an average of $121 up to $300 per hour. In comparison, developers in India start around $20 per hour and quickly go up in price.

So, it is essential to consider where you are hiring software developers when calculating the app development cost. You can find the best development team according to your budget.

Third-party Services and APIs

It will also affect the development budget if you use third-party services and APIs in your app. Developers must adequately understand how they work and integrate them into the app.

These include payment processors, social media APIs, analytics tools, and more. Integrating these services can cost more than expected. So, it’s vital to consider them when budgeting a mobile app.

Techniques for App Development Cost Estimation

To estimate your budget requirements, you’ll need a detailed plan outlining each task’s cost. There are various techniques to estimate a mobile app development cost accurately. Here are some of them:

Expert Judgment

You can ask mobile app experts to provide app development cost estimates. They are familiar with the app development process and know what goes into it.

These developers will consider all factors, such as complexity and third-party services. This method is helpful if you have a limited budget or want to keep the app cost under control.

Parametric Estimation

The parametric estimation uses historical data from similar projects to predict the app development cost. It uses mathematical formulas to come up with an app development cost breakdown. It can be helpful if you understand the app development process and the parameters needed for app development.

Analogous Estimation

Analogous cost estimation uses the cost of past app development projects to get results. It compares data from similar projects to create app development cost estimates. This technique is helpful if you have a small budget and need an app developed quickly.

Three-point Estimation

This app cost estimation method uses three values to calculate the development cost breakdown. It considers the best and worst scenarios while calculating mobile app development costs. So, this technique is helpful if you want a more accurate app development cost estimate.

Agile Estimation

Agile estimation is a modern method of app cost estimation. It uses Agile development principles such as user stories, sprints, and points to estimate costs.

When using the agile estimation technique, it is essential to break down the project into smaller pieces. By doing this, you can accurately estimate how much each task will cost. It can help you plan your budget and makes it easy to change things if something happens during the development process.


COCOMO stands for Constructive Cost Model. It is a tool that businesses use to estimate the app development budget. It considers various factors such as software size, complexity, and design to come up with accurate estimates.

Most of the time, developers use COCOMO with agile estimation techniques. This process provides a better cost estimate for your mobile app.

Function Point Analysis

Function Point Analysis (FPA) is another tool used in app cost estimation. This technique measures the functionality and features of an app to come up with a more precise estimate.

FPA considers the app’s external, internal, and logical factors. It also examines user interface design and data management factors to provide more accurate estimates.

Use Case Points

Use Case Points are a popular estimation method used by developers. This technique evaluates user stories and cases of an app to determine a mobile app’s cost.

It would help to have a detailed understanding of the features and processes involved in developing the app. Use Case Points will help you accurately estimate how much it costs to produce each feature.

Story Points

Story Points are similar to Use Case Points. The difference is that Story Points use the Fibonacci sequence as a reference point for estimating development costs.

Developers will assign each task or feature a number from the sequence, representing its size and complexity. This technique makes estimating a mobile app cost easier by breaking down larger tasks into smaller chunks.

Earned Value Analysis

Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a method used to measure the progress of a project. You can use it to calculate a mobile app cost by considering the time and resources of each project stage.

By using EVA, businesses can accurately estimate how much it will cost them to develop an app. It is also a valuable tool for project management. It can help companies track the progress of their mobile app development process.

App Development Cost Ranges

Now, it’s time to research your options and set your budget parameters. Analyzing what is available on the market will help you determine which solution best suits your needs. Doing so ensures you don’t overspend or settle for an inferior product. It will help you develop an app with the needed features without exceeding your budget.

Here are the typical app development cost ranges:

Simple Apps

Simple apps are like tools that are easy to use. They don’t require a lot of complicated technology and usually have just a few capabilities. But they can be beneficial in giving information or doing simple functions.

Building a simple app can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $20,000. The price range depends on the app’s complexity and the programming language your team used to develop it.

Here are some examples of simple apps:

  • Calendar apps
  • Weather apps
  • Calculator apps

Moderate Complexity Apps

Creating a moderate-complexity app can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. These apps usually have features like social sharing, payment processing, and other advanced functionalities.

Here are some examples:

  • E-commerce apps
  • Messaging apps
  • Travel apps

Complex and Enterprise Apps

Complex apps have advanced features like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). They typically use various data sources and often involve complex user interfaces.

Developing a complex app can cost anywhere from $100,000 to several million dollars. It’s because they require specialized programming languages and frameworks.

Here are some examples of complex apps:

  • Augmented reality apps
  • Smart home automation apps
  • Virtual assistant apps
  • Custom business apps

Estimating the Cost for Your App Project

After knowing the app development cost ranges, it is essential to calculate them accurately. Here are some practical steps to help you get a better estimate:

Research Your Options and Set Your Budget Parameters

Start by researching what is available on the market. Are you interested in hiring a freelancer, agency, or in-house team? Research the costs associated with each option.

Also, determine how much you will spend on developing an app. This way, you’ll know the budget parameters of your project and can avoid overspending.

Here are the different options for hiring developers:

  • In-house Software Developers. Hiring developers full-time may be a good option if you have the budget.
  • Freelancers. Freelance developers can provide you with an app for a lower cost than hiring an agency or full-time team.
  • App Development Agencies. If you are looking for a high-quality app, hiring an app development agency is best. They have skilled developers, designers, and testers who can help you create an app that meets your needs.

Know Where You Can Hire Developers and Designers

Once you have your budget, you can start looking for developers and designers. Research the costs of hiring developers from different regions. You can look for online job boards or search for reliable outsourcing agencies.

You may need to hire a development team if your project involves complicated tasks. Research their experience and look for recommendations from people you know. This way, you can narrow your search to the best candidates for your app project.

Depending on your preference, you can hire freelancers or in-house developers. You can also consider each option’s pros and cons to decide which fits your project.

Calculate Potential Costs For Your Preferred Solutions

Once you have identified the development team you want to hire, it is time to calculate potential costs for your app project. Research their rates and ask them to provide an estimate of their cost. It helps get a better understanding of your budget requirements.

Considering the cost of any developer or designer, consider their experience and expertise. Most experienced professionals come with a higher price tag, but they can deliver a better quality product.

Here are the usual costs of hiring developers according to their experience:

  • Beginner developers cost an average of $45 per hour, depending on their skills and location. They can help with debugging, app maintenance, and code documentation.
  • Intermediate developers typically charge around $65 per hour. They have general expertise in completing most app design projects and new feature requests.
  • Senior developers have an average cost ranging from $120 per hour range. They can lead your app development projects and implement advanced app features.

Strategies To Reduce App Development Costs Without Sacrificing Quality

Businesses can use a few strategies to reduce mobile app costs without sacrificing quality. Here are some of them:

Choosing the Right Development Team

Hiring the right development team is essential to reducing mobile app costs. Search for reliable developers with the skills your project needs. You should also look for ones with extensive experience developing apps similar to yours. This way, they can build your project quickly and accurately.

Here are the qualities of a reliable development team:

  • A proven track record of app development success
  • Quality services and products at reasonable prices
  • Responsive customer support
  • Knowledge of the latest technology trends

Prioritizing Features and Functionality

When budgeting for your project, it is vital to prioritize features and functionality. Start by listing the essential elements you want to include in your app. Then, prioritize them based on their importance to the user experience.

This way, you can add essential features for your project’s success. It also helps reduce unnecessary costs and ensures users have an enjoyable experience.

Utilizing Pre-built Modules and Libraries

Using pre-built modules and libraries can help reduce development costs. They offer many features and capabilities, such as user authentication, data storage, and analytics. Several experts have tested and verified these solutions, saving you time and money from issues and reiterations.

However, you must research which modules would be most beneficial for your project. Finding the right solutions will help you save costs without sacrificing quality or features.

Popular pre-built modules and libraries for app development include:

  • Firebase
  • React Native
  • Ionic
  • Cordova
  • Flutter
  • GraphQL

Choosing Cost-Effective Development Methods

Choosing a suitable development method for your project can be a difficult and overwhelming task. Several development methods are available, each with its benefits and drawbacks.

However, specific approaches offer more cost-effective solutions. Choosing the correct development method means you can get more out of your budget.

Here are some cost-effective methods for developing an app:

  • Agile Development

It is a popular approach to app development that emphasizes collaboration and flexibility. Your team will create a minimum viable product (MVP) in short iterations. This process will allow your developers to modify their code quickly.

  • Rapid Application Development (RAD)

The RAD approach focuses on creating a product with minimal coding in the shortest time possible. It is an ideal method for small projects that require rapid development, such as web and mobile apps.

  • Waterfall Development

It is a more traditional approach to app development. It follows a linear progression and requires detailed planning before the project can begin. This method tends to be more expensive but offers reliable results.

Outsourcing App Development

Outsourcing app development is a cost-effective alternative to hiring an in-house team. It allows businesses to tap into the global talent pool and get access to experienced professionals at competitive rates.

When you outsource, you hire another mobile app development company to do the job for them. It can be helpful because you can focus on your main business functions. It also saves your business time and money.

Here are the different types of outsourcing:

  • Offshore Outsourcing

This type of outsourcing involves hiring app development companies from another country to work on your project. Businesses usually prefer this to save costs since rates are often lower in other countries.

  • Nearshore outsourcing

Here, you will work with a company or individual in places near your country. It is ideal if you want little to no time zone and cultural differences.

  • Onshore outsourcing

This type of outsourcing involves working with a company or individual in your country. It can benefit complex projects since fewer language barriers and communication issues exist.

Having a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

An MVP is the bare-bones version of your app that provides basic features and functionalities. An MVP can help you save costs since it eliminates the need for advanced features or costly tools.

Moreover, creating an MVP also helps you test your product before investing money in its development. This way, you can determine whether it meets user expectations and needs.

To create an MVP, you must hire app designers and front-end developers. They can help you build a prototype of your app using the tools and resources available.

These are the steps to create a minimum viable product:

  • Identify the core features of your app.
  • Create a prototype and test it with users.
  • Gather feedback from your target audience.
  • Make adjustments and improvements based on user feedback.

Utilizing Reusable Code

Reusable code refers to reusing existing code snippets or modules for app development. This method can reduce costs since developers don’t have to write new regulations from scratch.

Most software companies use reusable code to speed up the development process and reduce coding errors. Additionally, it allows teams to focus on building more complex features.

Using Cloud-based Services

Using cloud-based services to host your app can help reduce development costs. It eliminates the need for physical servers and infrastructure, reducing maintenance costs.

Several cloud-based platforms are available, including Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Choosing the right platform depends on your project requirements and budget.

Promoting Communication and Collaboration

Communication and collaboration are essential to the success of any app project. It ensures everyone’s on the same page, reducing potential problems in the development process.

Here are some tips to promote communication and collaboration within your team:

  1. Set Clear Expectations. When you start a project, it is essential to have the same goal in mind as the people you are working with. It includes establishing deadlines, outlining responsibilities, and defining team roles up front. These steps will help avoid confusion and problems later on.
  2. Create a Communication Plan. Establishing a communication plan will help ensure that everyone is on the same page. So, make sure you use effective communication channels. It also pays to set meetings to check in with your team and ask for updates or progress reports.
  3. Use Collaborative Tools. You can use different tools to connect and work with your team in other places or time zones. Some of these include project management software and cloud storage services. You can also use document editing tools such as Google Docs and video conferencing apps.

Automating Tasks

Automation can reduce development costs by eliminating manual tasks. For example, a bug-tracking system can help developers and testers identify errors more quickly and accurately. It will help them fix issues faster without manually going through codes.

Although you need to pay more for automation tools, they can help your team save time and money in the long run.

Here are some of the app development automation tools that you can try:

  • Test Automation. This tool helps testers save time by automating tests for various software projects.
  • Bug Tracking. Bug tracking software like JIRA, Pivotal Tracker, and Mantis can help developers identify and fix errors quickly.
  • Performance Monitoring. This tool helps developers track and monitor the performance of their apps.
  • Continuous Integration/Delivery (CI/CD). CI tools automate the process of integrating new codes into existing ones.
  • Build Automation. This type of tool helps developers automate the process of building their apps.

Avoiding Costly Mobile App Features

Avoid unnecessary features that can add to development costs when creating an app. Instead, focus on the app’s main functions and prioritize essential elements first.

You should also research which app features are popular among users. Doing so will help you maximize your app’s potential and meet user expectations.

Here are some helpful tips when choosing app features:

  • Avoid using camera integration, GPS, or push notifications in the MVP because it would cost too much money.
  • Avoid integrating motion graphics and 3D effects into your app unless needed.
  • Choose a more affordable server, like AWS infrastructure. You can either pay for it every month or just pay as you go.

Best Mobile Apps in Their Industry and Their Development Costs

When researching mobile app costs, it is essential to look at what other companies are doing in their industry. Looking at the best apps and their development costs can help you understand how much your project may cost.

Here are some of the popular mobile apps across different industries and their app development costs:


Uber is an app that allows users to book and pay for rides. It also includes features such as navigation and driver ratings. The estimated development cost of the Uber app ranges from $200,000 and above. If you’re planning to develop a similar app, you should budget more.


Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app that allows users to post, edit and share photos. It also includes features such as filters and stories. The estimated cost for the initial development of Instagram is around $500,000. However, the project’s fund reached $57,500,000 due to its multiple updates and regular maintenance.


Airbnb is an online marketplace for booking homes and apartments. It includes features such as payment processing, reviews, and messaging. The estimated development cost of Airbnb costs billions of dollars yearly with ongoing maintenance and updates. But if you plan to develop an app like this, you can prepare an initial budget of $150,000.


Facebook is a top-rated social network. It has lots of features and is always trying to add new ones. Developing an app like Facebook will cost around $350,000 and $400,000 or more.


Tinder is a popular dating app. It lets you choose people by swiping left or right on a profile. Tinder also includes geolocation and messaging functions, plus notifications to keep you updated. If you’re planning to develop an app like Tinder, you must spend around $150,000 just to get started.


Trello is a popular task management tool for companies. It’s like a digital whiteboard that has note cards you can use to keep track of projects. It lets you chat with your team members to check progress and share information.

Developing an app like Trello usually costs between $300,000 and $500,000. It will depend on the number of users and the additional features you want to add.

Why App Development Is Worth the Investment

Developing an app requires a considerable amount of money and effort. However, having reliable software can help your business grow and improve customer engagement.

Here are some of the advantages of app development:

It Helps You Reach More Customers

Forbes reported that 76 percent of people worldwide prefer using their phones to save time shopping. As you reach more users, you can also build better relationships with them.

Today, customers prefer fast and easy access to your products and services. Mobile apps are the perfect way to make this possible. They let customers quickly get their information and assistance with just a few finger taps. Plus, businesses use apps to show people exclusive deals and special offers just for using them. It can also help in making increasing customer loyalty.

It Strengthens Your Brand

Businesses can make great use of mobile apps from small to large enterprises. With an app, customers can access your services or products right away.

Moreover, customizing an app for your business can help you build better branding. Customers will feel more familiar with and trust your brand when they see that your app is easy to use and navigate. And it doesn’t take much to do this either – just making sure the app works smoothly can make all the difference!

It Helps Businesses Collect and Analyze Data

An app can give you valuable insight into what your customers like and need, which can help you grow your business. You can customize the app to fit your customer’s preferences and see which features they use the most. With this information, you can create new marketing plans that work.

It Strengthens Your Marketing Strategy

An app can help you uniquely promote your business. You can add messages, contact info, and team info. Moreover, you can even add fun things like contests and campaigns. Plus, you can customize it with your company’s colors, logos, and slogans so customers will recognize your brand.

These visual tools can help people remember your brand. This marketing strategy is part of the theory of “effective frequency.”

When people use your app, they are more likely to familiarize themselves with the name and branding of your business. Customizing things like colors, logos, and taglines is essential. It helps people recognize your business right away.

It Can Help You Save More Money

Mobile apps can be an efficient and cost-effective way to spread the word about your business. Apps can help employees get things done quicker and better while also helping to save money. Plus, companies can earn money by targeting ads and purchases to people who use the app. It’s a great way to save time, energy, and money!


Developing an app can be expensive, but it can also have a great return on investment in the long run. It will help your business reach more customers and strengthen your brand identity. You can also collect and analyze data to improve marketing strategies from the app.

Consider outsourcing and using reusable code when developing an app for your business. You can also utilize cloud-based services for efficiency. Also, you must remember that collaboration and task automation play essential roles in app development. These steps will help you save money in app development while ensuring that the app meets customer expectations.If you need a reliable outsourcing partner, BIT Studios can help. Our mobile app developers have the necessary experience and skills to make your app successful. Contact us, and we’ll give you a free cost estimate and assessment for your app project.

Originally published March 17, 2023, updated March 17, 2023

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