How much does it cost to create a mobile application

Statista experts claim that in 2020, users around the world downloaded applications 218 billion times. A business needs new mobile products and addresses this request to developers or gathers its programming teams. This requires not only an idea, but also an understanding of the scope, timing and budget of the project. In this article, we will tell you what makes up the cost of developing a mobile application , and how to choose a contractor with the most realistic estimate, even if the spread in estimates from different teams is significant.

What are the requirements?

Before you start cooking, you need to understand what you want for dinner. It’s the same with development: first of all, decide what product you want to get. A simple idea is not enough here – you need a description of the requirements for the application. This will help calculate the approximate cost of each stage of work: from analytics and design to development and testing itself. You can learn more about drafting requirements in our article .

After receiving the requirements, the contractor conducts a preliminary cost estimate and informs you of approximate amounts and terms. If everything suits you, then the contractor details the requirements – the analytics stage begins. When the requirements are fixed, the contractor announces the cost of the work to you. The more detailed the requirements are, the more accurate the estimate will be, but in most cases the project will change in the process along with the cost. Such a preliminary assessment will reduce risks, while not delaying the project and increasing development flexibility.

One of the most important factors influencing the final price is the complexity of the application. It includes the number of features, design and animation, cross-platform and dozens of other aspects.

  • An example of a simple application is a stopwatch. It performs one or two functions, and the development of such a product does not require serious experience or a large team.
  • A more complicated application is a messenger, which consists of basic functions (messaging, user profile, attachments). Its development already requires much more painstaking work, the implementation of not only a mobile, but also a server application (backend) and interaction between them.
  • An example of a complex one is a mobile application of almost any major bank. Such applications include the exchange of data with banks’ servers with all appropriate security measures. In addition, they usually have many additional features: for example, showcases with promotional offers from banks themselves and partners, chat bots, or informational content.

Factors affecting the price of an app

If you need to build a house, you can independently purchase materials, tools and building mixtures, rent equipment and try to cope on your own or with the help of a couple of hard workers hired by an ad. Most likely, this approach will save money, but in return you will have to spend a lot of time and effort. At the same time, without sufficient experience, you still hardly get the home of your dreams as a result. Instead, you can hire a professional contractor who will make a design project and estimate for you, approve the deadlines and monitor the progress of the work. Most likely, you will spend much more money, but you will get exactly what you wanted.

What’s with the applications? In development, the principle is approximately the same, only without bricks, cement and construction dust. And in the same way, when hiring a contractor, you get not developers or lines of code, but complex services for the implementation of your product. Here are the main factors that affect the final cost of creating mobile applications:

  • People Involved and Hours Spent . If you hire one freelancer, you will only pay him. When working with a large company, a whole team of managers, developers, designers, testers, etc. will work on your application. Everyone spends a certain number of hours working on a project. Each of them will perform their tasks, and if a freelancer takes on all of them, then in a large company they will be distributed among different people. The more complex the project, the more difficult it will be to find a freelancer who will pull the entire amount of work alone.
  • Type and number of platforms . If you want to reach a wide audience, then you will need a cross-platform application or applications on different platforms . Depending on the number of platforms and the ease of technical implementation, the average cost may increase or decrease.
  • Application functionality . Buttons, chatbots, animations, user profiles — all these features take a lot of time to develop. In addition, all interface elements need to be beautifully designed graphically so that they blend harmoniously and are comfortable for users. The more of these parts, the more they cost.
  • Internal structure (backend) & API . Any , even visually simple application for ordering food or messaging requires the implementation of the internal structure and server interaction, as well as the development of the backend itself . These factors affect both the complexity and the number of people involved, and hence the cost of product development.

iOS, Android or cross platform app

how to develop an application

The choice of platform should be approached responsibly and as early as possible. It’s easy if you know, for example, that 80% of your target audience are Android users. But what if there is no such unambiguous data, or if it clearly indicates that both iOS and Android applications are needed?

In some cases, cross-platform development can be a good solution, and in most cases even more economical than developing two native applications for iOS and Andrdoid. You don’t have to hire separate programmers for each application; one person will be able to maintain the product after the release. Unfortunately, this rule does not always work. To better understand which platform to choose, read our articles on cross-platform development and comparing iOS and Android .

But take your time: at the stage of testing an idea, it is worth choosing one platform to start. This will help you save money and study your audience to prepare for the next steps. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing:

  • sales of devices on Android in 2020 amounted to 84.1%, on iOS – only 15.9%;
  • the level of solvency of users of the iOS platform is much higher;
  • the popularity of the OS depends on the geography and scope of user employment: for example, in the US, users prefer iOS devices, while in Russia, buyers prefer Android.

Application stuffing

When you have chosen a platform, define the functionality of the application. Pay attention to the following questions:

  • client-server application? Now the filling in many mobile devices is the client interface. The data is stored on the server and synchronized on all user devices. Therefore, you will have to spend money not only on the client side, but also on the backend. In addition, the cost of server maintenance should be considered . Find developers for both parts who know how to interact with each other so that there are no misunderstandings and errors.
  • Is the design thoughtful and elegant? There are many aspects to this item: from the depth of interface design to the availability of unique illustrations and animations. The picture is the first thing that attracts users and makes them interact with the product. A competent designer will create an application prototype and layouts, detail the concept, work out decorative elements, etc.
  • what functions does the application perform? Maybe you’re building a simple calculator or timer that does a few simple things. If you are planning to develop a new social network, there will be much more functions – from messaging to online games. The more extensive the content, the more expensive the development will cost .


To create a mobile product , you need to go through all the stages of development . Skip the analytics – get not what you intended; neglect the tests – and you will struggle with bugs for several months. However, it is worth remembering that development is a non-linear process. Edits can be made at any stage, so the timing of the project will be flexible.

Deadlines are affected by the workload of programmers, the number of people involved in the project, and dozens of other factors. Sometimes you can speed up the work by increasing its cost, but not everyone is ready for this. You can break the entire project into iterations and have a working product at the end of each phase. So you can change priorities and development vectors at any time. Another option is to break the work into successive stages and get the result after each. Let’s take a closer look at how development time depends on the standard stages of work on a project.

  • Cost estimate . Contractors calculate how much it will cost to develop an application and offer you an approximate cost . Usually it’s free.
  • Study of tasks, target audience and market . Marketers and analysts determine who the application is created for and with whom it will compete. This allows you to highlight key features and avoid the mistakes of other companies.
  • Writing TK . Contractors fully describe the application in order to calculate the exact cost of each part. Following the terms of reference , developers and designers can present the final product and unmistakably bring it to life.
  • Design . At this stage, all the most beautiful things happen. Designers create prototypes and design layouts of application screens and agree with the customer.
  • Development . This is where programmers get down to business and create your application. The range of terms here is quite large: it depends on the number of platforms, the main functions , the size of the development team and other factors.
  • Tests. The contractor checks if everything is in order with the finished application and tests all possible user behaviors. If after all stages of testing no difficulties arise, you get a quality product – the way you intended it.

At each stage, the team will show you intermediate results so that you can be calm about the process and present the result. After the release, the contractor will continue technical support and help fix bugs. You can read more about the development stages in our article .


Whoever takes on your project plays an important role . Time and cost depend on the size of the team and experience. Here are some examples of contractors you may encounter:

  • big company . These guys attract with extensive experience in creating applications and streamlined processes. You can see dozens of examples of their work and see the quality of the products. The cost of development for large companies is quite high, but they value their reputation and have the resources to ensure uninterrupted work on the project. Another advantage of a large contractor is that it is most often a “one-stop shop” where you can get a turnkey solution. There are analysts, designers, and developers with a diverse stack in the company, and QA engineers, and managers – small companies cannot always provide this.
  • small studio . The guys in a small studio will most likely turn out to be responsible professionals, show an individual approach, quickly start without unnecessary bureaucracy. They may even offer you a price tag below the market average. But in case of unforeseen circumstances, for example, an urgent request for a warranty bug fix from a previous customer, and the illness of someone from the team, and a burnt laptop, the guys will not always have the resources and tools for a quick solution.
  • freelancers . If you want to save even more, then freelancers are your choice. There are two main difficulties here. First, you will have a difficult communication process, as they do not have separate project managers to work with you. Secondly, it will be more difficult for you to control the work process, and no one except this freelancer is responsible for the project. However, now many good specialists work on freelance, so you should not discard this option – it depends on your goals and capabilities.

At every stage of working on a mobile application, you may encounter unexpected costs. Any detail that you want to see in the final product can affect the cost of its implementation. Remember that surprises cannot be completely avoided. An experienced team from a reliable contractor helps to minimize them and overcome those that do happen, while carefully managing the budget. Do you want to create a modern and functional application? Write to us !

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