Cost to develop and maintain a mobile app

By Prateek Saxena & Sudeep Srivastava
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 14:35 PM 13 min read
Last update on: July 10, 2019
Image Credits: Robert Stu

The combination of High Quality and Low Development Cost is what every business looking to expand in the mobile domain hopes to achieve. A combination that is more possible to achieve in Eastern Countries like India, with their $25 - $80/hour Range as compared to the Western Nations that charge somewhere in the range of $100 - $350/hour. Now whether your app will be developed at the rate of $25 per hour or $350 per hour, depends on a lot of factors.

How is App Development Cost Estimated- The Formula

The formula or the answer to how much does it cost to create an app lies in calculating the number of hours it would take for every single one of the development process and multiplying it to the billable hours of resources.

Factors That Measure Up As the Cost to Build an App

01. App Discovery

Before the team starts preparing for the months-long process of mobile app development and much before the rough estimate is shared with the clients, the app idea is validated. There are a number of different methods that app development companies apply to validate the idea they are shared with, such as looking at competitors, analyzing the user persona, and even checking the marketing capitalization.

At Appinventiv, when we are the stage of App Idea Validation, we follow the process of Design Sprint to validate an idea. After the end of 5 day Design Sprint, once we have gauged the level of interest, we start with the next process - looking into what the app idea’s market is.

Market Research

We do a handful of things at this stage. From looking for the devices that the app’s user work on to analyzing the features they love to use and leave in the apps falling in the same category as our client’s. A major portion of our Market Research process is made of Competitor Analysis as well.

User Personas

A lot of factors - App Size, App UI/UX, Features, etc - varies from one user demographics to other, which gives its study an important place in the mobile app development cost breakdown structure. That is what we analyze and draft in User Persona.

Market Capitalization

Just like in the business world the worth of a company is calculated by its market cap, the same is done with the app idea too. Information is gathered related to how much the idea is worth in terms of users it would attract, the revenue it would generate, and even the fundings that it would get. The aim of App Discovery stage is to first validate an app idea and then create a rough idea of the set of features it would have to make it different from the competitor’s.

The approximate amount of time it takes to complete App Discovery is between 40 - 80 hours.

02. Analysis & Scoping

This is where the document of what the app would do, the features it would have to fulfill its purpose, and technology it would have is prepared.

App Complexity

The definition of app complexity lies in the number of features that it includes. There can be over 100 different cost impacting features but they can all be clubbed into 5 groups-

Deployment Architecture Model

Through Backend, businesses take in user information from the app, transform the information into solution and then return it to the user. When it comes to Backend development, there are two options -Custom or BaaS. In Custom, clients get their own architecture while in BaaS, they get a readymade backend architecture

Admin Panel Development

It is that part of the app which is used to manage the app - keep track of the activity, view stats, and update the content without the need of involving developers.

Third Party Integration

More often than not, your app needs to interact with other app’s functionality to ease its processes. Such as your app can use Facebook login or PayPal payment to make user process easier.

In-App Purchase

Since a good percent of the apps in the industry today have the functionality of in-app purchases in one form or the other, the in-app purchase has found a great demand for itself.

Use of Device’s Hardware

The modern day range of smartphones and tablets come packed with a number of features such as Bluetooth, GPS, Nearby, Barometers, etc. which when linked and run with the apps tend to power up the apps as well.

Now, talking of app complexity, the more of these features an app use the more the mobile app development cost would be. And depending on the App Complexity, this is what the cost breakdown structure looks like -

Simple Apps - the ones that come with basic features, require standard UI components, and a very simple backend mostly a pre-defined template with basic analytic features.

Development of a simple app takes up to 600 - 900 hours.

Mid Level Apps - Integration with API, custom UI, real-time messaging, and a simple backend structure is what defines a Mid Complexity App.

Development of a middle complexity takes somewhere around 900 - 1600 hours.

Complex Apps - These use very high functionalities - custom animation, media processing, real-time sync, complex backend with a different type of database relationships, etc define Complex Apps.

Development of complex apps takes more than 1600 hours.

App Category

The Answer to How much Does it Cost to Make an App varies greatly from category to category. When we move from one category to another, a lot of things change like number of users, functionalities, security criteria, etc. which ultimately leads to varying cost to develop an app.

Stand Alone Apps - These apps don’t need a network to run, nor are they dependent on any device feature. Such apps are marked by low data and development cost: a win-win for both - the users and the business. Example- Clock, Calendar.

A minimalistic features independent apps cost somewhere around 600 - 900 hours

Social Networking Apps - What was started by Facebook is only carried further by a number of other brands.

The common features of a social networking app include - integration with other app and device functionality like media files and camera, real-time messaging, use of location-based service, real-time sync, and the latest trend of in-app purchases.

Because it has to serve millions of users at the same time, in a secure environment, and in a real-time ecosystem, the cost to build an app in the social media platform category tends to be high.

Social Networking Apps like Tinder or WhatsApp cost somewhere around 1800 - 2500 hours

On - Demand Apps - When businesses develop an on-demand app, they develop an app that caters to three people - the user, the person delivering the service, and the business. And, the UI and app flow is entirely different in all of them, which adds on to the development cost to a great extent.

Along with that, the category calls for a number of features included like in-app payment, real-time sync, real-time tracking, chat support, rate and review support, and notifications, among others.

Since through an on-demand app, a mobile app development company is developing three apps, its cost also rises to a huge extent

On-Demand Apps like UberEats or Lyft cost somewhere around 2000 and above hours

Enterprise Mobile Apps - Enterprise Mobile Apps, unlike other app categories, need to be more precise. As the apps are to be used by employees as a supporting element to smooth their process and because the app should be developed in a way that it grows as the business grows, the development efforts are much higher in enterprise apps.

Enterprise Mobile Apps cost somewhere around $50,000 to $1,75,000.

Focus On Hardware

IoT apps mostly require very low-level interactions with the firmware for controlling the hardware. They do, however, need collaboration with the hardware itself to enable users to seamlessly pull data and send commands and get an action in return.

Lastly, because they require special ROMs or exact device requirements for they are computationally intensive, they cost a portion extra than the on-demand apps.

An app that is highly dependent on a hardware, like an IoT app, costs somewhere around $30,000 - $ 40,000

03. App Design & Animation

The next factor that adds on to the answer to How much does it cost to make an app is App Design. Ensuring that your users invest their time in your app, calls for a specific focus on App Design. When deciding on the App Design, we generally have two options - Custom and Standard UI. Customized UI are much difficult to design and implement than the Standard UI, which makes it more expensive.


The user experience map and features are structured through Wireframing, which we draft using tools such as Balsamiq, Photoshop, and MARVEL. Every wireframe is approved by the client to create a final app screen flow.

In case the client has a wireframe ready, the cost of developing one is not included.

UI Design

For all the Android Apps that we develop here at Appinventiv, we use Material Design to introduce the essence of creativity and simplistic boldness in our Mobile App Designs.

As for the iOS App Development, we make use of the clarity and depth that comes with Flat Design.


Animation holds a prominent part in some apps like gaming or social media apps like Snapchat. The design and coding of animation are counted in a complicated process, which increases the app design cost.

The app design cost varies depending on the above factor. It could be a simple one and cost somewhere 150 hours or it could be a complex one and cost 400 hours.

04. App Platform

App Platform and the number of OS Versions your app will have is the direct answer to How much does it cost to create an app

Native Apps (Android & iOS)

While there is hardly any cost difference between Android and iOS apps, Android App Cost tend to get higher when a number of devices with different OS versions are involved, something that is hardly ever an issue in iOS. Language-wise, iOS app development happens on Swift and Objective C, while Android App Development is done on Java and/or Kotlin.

Web App

Apps like Progressive Web Apps and other forms of Web Apps are much cost-efficient as compared to native apps. In terms of cost of development,

Web App Development Cost amounts to somewhere in the range of $15,000 to $ 30,000.

Cross Platform App Development

Getting an app developed for both iOS and Android simultaneously is the new cost-efficient trend. The platform comes with a series of benefits like single code use and less development effort. The cross-platform industry is presently divided between Flutter and React Native platforms.


A new entrant in the market, Flutter comes with its own series of advantages in terms of complete Native experience, the support of detailed documentation, and the app running time of 60 FPS. But, since the platform is fairly new and the availability of Dart programmers is still fairly less, the cost of Flutter App Development is on the higher side.

Flutter app development cost ranges to somewhere around $15,000 to $40,000

React Native

React Native over time has become synonymous with Cross-Platform App Development. There are a number of brands that have adopted the Framework for making a presence on both Android and iOS simultaneously. When compared to Native App Development and Flutter app development, React Native App Development is much more cost effective.

React Native App Development Cost Ranges to somewhere around $15,000 to $50,000

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid Apps are a blend of both Native and Web App. While it is installed like a Native app but it runs in a webview component.

There are three frameworks that are widely used for Hybrid App Development - PhoneGap, Ionic, and Sencha Touch. However, over time Hybrid Apps have lost their position to Cross-Platform Native App Development which is offered by React Native and Flutter.

But, there are still brands that wish to get Hybrid apps developed, because of the costing which is somewhere around exact half of the Native Apps.

Blockchain Apps

Apps based on Blockchain are the biggest trends surrounding industries, globally. The technicalities and lack of Blockchain Development experts are the two reasons that add on to the total app development hours and thus the development cost

Talking of Blockchain App Development Platforms, there are two types of Platforms - Permissioned and Public. While there is a very minimal cost difference between both, Permissioned Blockchain costs a little higher than the Public counterpart, purely because it takes into consideration an advanced level of security.

Blockchain App Development Cost Ranges somewhere around $30,000 to $1,80,000.

05. App Deployment

An app that is ideated and developed with many efforts needs to adhere to the specific guidelines of both the App Store and Play Store. There are a number of instances when an app gets rejected and is unable to go to the approval stage because of unfulfillment of A, B, C criteria, what we do is we measure your app against the guidelines checklist that we have incorporated at every stage of the mobile application development process.

When Submitting an Android App on Play Store, you will have to pay a one-time fee of $25. Apple, on the other hand, charges $99 per year.

06. App Maintenance

Undeniably, expenses do not come to an end at the last stage of the mobile application development process. Businesses will have to continue changing their apps to keep up with the varying market trends and new device & OS versions, which comes with a cost.

App Update

The user experience map and features are structured through Wireframing, which we draft using tools such as Balsamiq, Photoshop, and MARVEL. Every wireframe is approved by the client to create a final app screen flow.

In case the client has a wireframe ready, the cost of developing one is not included.

App Bug Fixes

There is no such thing as a bug-free mobile app. In most cases, there are bugs that are only highlighted once the app is published. You will have to keep a lookout for those bug fixes.

Design Changes

App designs are the one element of a mobile app that tends to get old and stop enticing users. It is very important for a brand to not let their app design get outdated if they wish to keep their users hooked.

App Maintenance Cost is calculated yearly at the valuation of 20% of the whole app development cost.

07. Code Reuse

It’s one of the factors that bring the app development cost slashing down. When businesses decide to reuse the code of an existing app in their own app and just change the branding elements, the app development cost becomes much less.

However, at Appinventiv, we advise businesses to reuse only the common elements like Contact Us, Login, etc. and develop the rest from scratch, otherwise, it would become impossible to maintain a separate brand identity.

The cost of app development when the existing codes are used is 20 - 30% less than the cost of an app that is coded from scratch.

08. Team

Depending on who is developing your mobile application – Freelancer or a large-cap app development agency, the cost to make an app would vary.

A freelancer or a company of 5 to 10 people team which is just starting will charge less to help create their work portfolio, while the large-cap companies which have thousands of employee to take care of, will be focusing on clients who are ready to pay hefty amounts in name of mobile application development and deployment.

There is a considerable amount of cost difference that comes up because of the varying team size. While Freelancers and Small Shop Companies are made of a developer and a tester, while the rest is outsourced, Mid and Large Cap companies like ours are made of a development team that looks like this -

Request a team presentation

Appinventiv provides a dedicated team to brands worldwide to create products that your customers will love.

Apps Developed by Large App Development Companies, with a team size of cost 3000+ experts – cost $450,000 to $1,500,000

Apps Developed by Mid Cap App Development Companies, like Appinventiv, with a team size of 500 - 1000 experts – cost $25,000 to $2,00,000

Apps Developed by Freelancers or Small Shop companies, with a team size of 10 to 50 experts – cost $2000 to $25,000

*All these costs are an average cost estimate of a mid complex app.

**If some project asks for taking help of an industry expert who is not on a development company payroll, the cost of hiring them for the project would be additional.

09. Location

Locality plays a major part in deciding the app development cost. The cost changes almost dramatically when you move from the West to the East. When we talk about the change in cost, we are talking in the per hour cost range.

How Do We Estimate Your App Development Cost

After understanding your complete requirements and expectations, we draft a rough estimate based on the hours it would take to finish the app, the technologies that we will be using, and the resource team that will be allocated to you during the project.

Next, once you approve the rough estimate, we go on to drafting a detailed cost breakdown structure document that consists the detail of scope of work requirements, create a framework, and prepare the other project related documentation. We provide both a-la-carte and complete mobile application development, deployment, and maintenance package in which case the price that we share, covers all. So there you have it. The answer to How much does it Cost to Make an App.

While there is hardly any cost difference between Android and iOS apps, Android App Cost tend to get higher when a number of devices with different OS versions are involved, something that is hardly ever an issue in iOS. Language-wise, iOS app development happens on Swift and Objective C, while Android App Development is done on Java and/or Kotlin.

Sudeep Srivastava
CEO, Appinventiv
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