How much does app development cost in 2023?

From a development company’s perspective, costs of mobile app development for startups based on the average Eastern European hourly rate ($50) range is, as follows:

cost to develop an app

As with most things, app development costs depend on what you want.

The cost of creating an app depends on the following factors:

  • complexity of project requirements
  • seniority level of the team or developer performing the job
  • degree of design elaboration
  • possible risks of scope creep

For greater detail, check out the pricing factors below.

Budget templates and estimate examples are included.

You do not have to guesstimate on your own.

Let’s do a project discovery and turn its results into a fixed-price agreement.

Discuss Details

1 Key Benchmarks on App Development Costs and Budgeting

Let’s focus on statistics related to app development costs and budgeting.

Cost statistics help us detect market trends and interests.

Budgeting clarifies where possible risks and optimization opportunities lie when you outsource app development.

Key points to consider include:

App Development Cost Statistics

Here are some important highlights of the market state and trends:

  • The number of apps in the App Store grew from 500 in 2008 to a peak of 2.2M in 2017. As of the third quarter of 2022, about 1.6M apps were available. (Source: Wikipedia, Statista)
  • Google Play surpassed 1M apps in July 2013, peaking at about 3.6M apps in March 2018. The number of apps in March 2023 was 2.67M. (Source: Statista)
  • In February 2023, developers released about 87,000 apps in Google Store. (Source:Statista)
  • iOS users received 31,500 new app releases in March 2023. (Source: Statista)
  • As of the second quarter of 2022, the top five Apple App Store categories included games, business, education, utilities, and lifestyle. (Source: Statista)
  • The Amazon Appstore is the third-largest platform, offering approximately 476,000 apps. (Source: Statista)
  • IT spending worldwide will grow by 2.4%. (Source: Gartner)
  • iOS developers are more expensive. A US iOS architect makes $181,000 annually, while an Android architect earns $159,000. (Source: ZipRecruiterr)
  • Development costs are lower for a hybrid app than a native app by 60% to 80%. (Source: Ionic)
  • Costs of hiring an outsourcing team rise from East to West. Eastern Asia is the cheapest region. North America is the most expensive. Central and Eastern Europe provides a balanced ratio. (See below)
  • Users prefer apps to websites. 85% of shoppers use apps for mobile payments, 76% for placing orders, and 70% for searching. (Source: VDC Research)
  • Discovery Phase is critical for app success. Based on a study, 83% of those who did were positive about their project’s success, and 13% were neutral. (Source: Nielsen Norman Group)
  • 70% of apps require a Discovery Phase. (Source: Clutch)
  • Using pre-built templates, open-source tools, and third-party APIs can reduce app development costs by up to 30% to 50%. Yet, factor challenging integrations and increased software maintenance costs due to regular subscriptions. (Source: IT Craft)
  • Every $1 invested into UX improvement returns $100. (Source: UX Cam)
  • 95% of new initiatives will rely on the cloud to any extent by 2025: clouds deliver faster time to value. (Source: Gartner)

App Development Budget Template

Determining the price range is only a part of the challenge. Proper cost allocation plays a vital role.

The success of each launch relies on careful long-term budgeting for custom software development. Businesses receive a plan and monitor every step to know where their money is used and eliminate overspends.

The life cycle is the same or similar across most companies:

  • Discovery phase/analysis of requirements

A detailed, specific list of requirements helps precise estimates. The team discusses project specifics with the client and finalizes its project scope estimates and details in a document. If the idea is too general, the team might initiate project discovery.

  • UX/UI Design

The team works on the future app’s user flow and visual elements. It prepares wireframes and forms a map of screens to present logical connections between screens. After the client approves the map, designers work on the UI.

  • Server part and admin panel development

Without open and immediate client-server interaction, efficient work of an app and staying on track are impossible. Server part and server logic require skills and experience from developers.

  • Client application development

A separate app is developed for each mobile platform when using the native approach. The same codebase is adapted to the platforms under a cross-platform approach.

  • Quality Assurance

QA testing must be carried out at every development stage. QA determines if there is full compliance with both concept and functional requirements. The launch deadline depends on detecting bugs and resolving issues quickly.

  • Mobile application deployment

The review process takes time on the store side.
To pass the review fast, the team must prepare a package that includes a title, a short and detailed description, and several screenshots. It will also deploy the app on live servers when required.

mobile app development cost

The team presents an estimate that includes a detailed feature list and a statement of work containing all project-related activities.

Our experts use them to divide a project into milestones, which are then used for subsequent Sprint planning.

Each Sprint starts with its own separate estimate and ends with a report. The numbers serve for progress tracking and adjustments, if required.

Our estimate looks like this:

custom app development cost

Cost of App Development by Type

Do you want to determine app development costs based on app complexity? Here’s how:

  • Basic apps

A basic app has five to eight screens. It can neither exchange nor synchronize data with a database. It cannot do data analysis.

Basic apps provide some static data, such as business cards. They enable making one or two very easy actions, such as choosing an item and adding it to a user profile, list, etc., but cannot change item parameters.

A development team takes a month to build an app with basic functionality, around 200 – 300 working hours. Design, development, testing, and deployment are included in creating an app.

Possible costs: $4,000 – $75,000.

Examples: shopping list app, reminder app.

  • Average-complexity apps

These apps can have several functions. Some are quite complex. For example, an online store app can have 10+ screens, integration with the company’s website, and payment systems.

Shipment options and rating features are also possible.
Such an application requires at least 800 – 1,300 working hours. The timeline is 4+ months.

App development costs to build an app of average complexity tend to fall within the price range of most businesses.

Possible costs: $16,000 – $325,000.

Examples: order management app (without integrations), promotional app.

  • Complex mobile apps

Complex mobile apps top the list in terms of app development costs.
Implementation takes 6+ months. Required working hours range from 1,500 – 2,000.

A complex app could include:

  • different integrations
  • admin panel
  • database and API
  • complex features requiring access to smartphone hardware
  • data collection and analysis
  • chat or video calls

….and more.

Possible costs: $30,000 – $500,000.

Examples: video streaming app, marketplace app, social networking app.

Cost ranges are based on charges in different regions below.

Cost of App Development by Region

When checking out development costs, you will see smartphone app development costs increase as you go from East to West. Costs even vary within the same region. There is no clearly defined formula for hourly rates.

The US, Canada, Australia, and Schengen countries have the highest developer rates.

Below is an overview of hourly rates in the most popular destinations for outsourcing software development, starting from highest to lowest. This gives you a guide to estimating the costs of creating an app.

average cost to develop an app

Estimated average app development costs based on geographical region:

mobile app development cost

App development costs also fluctuate within each region based on a company’s expertise.

For example, a company with a solid, proven portfolio, 10+ years in the market, and an office in the USA has a higher hourly rate than a younger, less-experienced company with a small portfolio and no office in the US or EU.

2 How Much Does it Cost to Make an App at IT Craft?

To get a precise estimate, IT Craft recommends starting with the Discovery Stage. You, as the client, can get a clear picture of costs.

Check IT Craft’s Startup Kit for more details.

Here are two specific examples of two MVP apps to give you a bigger picture:

RooQi

Services Delivered: iOS app development; dedicated team

RooQi creates recruitment opportunities by connecting young athletes and coaches directly with each other.

Athletes can showcase their talents, follow teams, and message coaches. Coaches can search and follow rising stars. The client planned an MVP iOS app, so an accurate project estimate was crucial.

IT Craft analyzed the client’s project and estimated its scope in detail. The engineers delivered an MVP on time and within budget and scope.

Rooqi

99coaches

Services Delivered: cross-platform app development; dedicated team, app maintenance

99coaches enables football and basketball coaches to plan and manage training sessions effectively. They can add exercises from the library or create their own. Then, they manage details such as order, time, set per exercise, etc.

Coaches track training attendance and team progress. 99coaches makes it possible to manage several teams from one profile. The offline mode ensures instant availability of all information.

Initially, the client had a project prototype, but IT Craft engineers started from scratch to improve all aspects (app logic, infrastructure, source code). The cross-platform approach ensured simultaneous releases to all platforms for a decreased delivery time.

99 coaches

Workload Breakdown Affecting Main App Costs

A little insight into the timeline needed to deliver app functionality. It gives you a clearer understanding on the costs for a single feature.

Below is an approximate breakdown of how much time each activity on a project takes. The breakdown applies to a basic app structure. It might vary depending on scope and project specifics (e.g., simple design and complex background or vice versa).

custom app development cost

3 More Examples of App Development Cost

Every app is unique, but similar app types share common functionality (e.g., sign-in, payment, data encryption, etc.). They also have similar complexity levels.

Knowing the app type helps the team put together project requirements faster. It delivers a more precise app development cost estimate.

Assessing the current eight popular app types, these are the key activities:

Telemedicine app – Provide patients with remote consultations. Enable doctors to start case conferences and share treatment methods.

Example app:

cost to develop an app

Fitness app – Help users stay in good shape with less stress. Provide training opportunities, nutritional information, and monitoring of water intake.

Example app:

mobile app development cost

Healthcare app – Simplify clinic workflow. Provide patients with access to their medical services from anywhere.

Example app:

app development cost

Indoor positioning and navigation app – Identify each user’s location and devise the best route inside a building.

Example app:

InNav app development cost

Social media app – Connect people into a community based on shared interests, professional activities, etc. Provide them with networking and content.

Example app:

social media app cost

On-demand app – Help users find and order different goods and services when needed.

Example app:

on-demand app development cost

Learning app – Ensure users can perform learning activities, e.g., complete tasks, do exercises, participate in class training, etc.

Example app:

learning app development cost

Marketplace app – Provide a space where users can meet professionals who help them solve specific tasks quickly and transparently.

Example app:

marketplace app development cost

The estimated scope encompasses basic functionality. Average app development costs increase when custom features are added.

There is more for you. Estimates for three types of apps available give you a clearer understanding of typical project costs.

Click on the link below, and the estimate will open in a new tab as a PDF file:

4 App Cost Calculator

Want to have a go at figuring out costs on your own?
Check out our app cost calculator.

Pick up the options you envision, simple or complex. See how much it costs you to build an app.

The calculator guides you through the essentials of the estimation process within ten steps.

It takes only 5 – 10 minutes of your time.

app cost calculator
  • estimate of working hours
  • app development cost estimate
  • recommended team composition

All information is available as a PDF and emailed to your address. Nothing gets lost.

5 Factors that Affect Application Costs

Risks are an essential part of software development reality. Total app development costs can change considerably from the initially agreed amount.

The most common reasons are:

01 No project limits

It is essential to outline the budget range during the initial call. It lets the team prioritize the key features. The team suggests a path that balances scope and deliverables and abides by it.

02 Communication

Programming outsourcing is a winning strategy when the client and the development team invest in project success. A product owner must be available to answer any clarifying questions the team asks to keep pace with the project timeline.

03 Domain knowledge

Without specific domain knowledge, e.g., app development for startups, developers might be too optimistic about their estimates. A client who wants a project launched fast can urge them to provide an estimate (i.e., guesstimate) quickly. Developers might not notice extensive elements affecting the total project scope in this case.

04 Challenging project requirements

Businesses must innovate to beat the competition. Yet, dealing with novelty might take longer than anticipated if developers need to design and test specific algorithms. Integrating specific third-party services can also require extra time.

05 Wrong pricing model

Fixed price works best for clear, comprehensible, simple requirements. It does not work well on complex projects as all changes are discussed separately.
Time-and-material model works for projects with flexible requirements. It could create unnecessary complexity on simple projects.

6 Hidden App Development Costs: Be Careful!

Hidden costs occur when the development team comes in with an unrealistic or wrong project scenario. The team might lack experience or want a client to sign on the bottom line.

Hidden app development costs might remain unnoticed at the project start. They will accelerate like an avalanche, with compounding costs spiraling out of control.

  • A dishonest service provider

A disreputable company provides a below-cost estimate just to get the client’s signature on the contract. Yet, terms are undetailed, perhaps with the intention to cover expenses with hidden costs.

  • Poor UX/UI design

A nice, intuitive, clear design takes time and expertise. If the team does not understand how the app should work and/or lacks expertise in UX implementation, the client will only lose development budget. The users will close the app and virtually walk away if they have no clue how the app works.

  • Irrelevant technologies

Overengineering causes creep in development and maintenance costs. Underengineering results in increased update costs or even blocked feature expansion. When an app rests on an outdated tech stack, it has a short lifecycle. It becomes more beneficial to start from scratch.

  • Source code quality

Source code quality affects app performance and maintenance costs. Updates become expensive when the development team takes too much time figuring out why new code does not work or checking whether any or all functionality remains available after an update.

  • Technical debt

The development team might be required to cut corners and deliver as fast as possible, ensuring business value. Yet, the team must address technical debt soon. Otherwise, it will block project success in the long run, challenging app maintenance and expansion.

7 How Much Does It Cost to Create an App: Total Cost

App expenses do not end with its launch.

A team must ensure it continues working correctly on user devices. It must also monitor app servers to avoid any downtime.

App maintenance will cost its owner 15% – 20% of initial app development costs per year.

custom app development cost

These following items factor in app maintenance costs:

  • Third-party integrations

Third-party solutions significantly decrease development time. Yet, they become regular expenses once an app is launched. These expenses increase with user base growth: payment plans are segmented based on certain usage criteria.

  • Updates

Both mobile OSs and third-party services require constant updates. In some cases, apps stop working after an update. Unfortunately, no one can forecast how much time app updates could take.

  • Migration

Third-party services become deprecated, reach the end of life, or shut down. Service providers often offer free migration tools to help mitigate migration-related risks and losses. Yet, you need someone to help you transmit your environment to a new provider.

  • Infrastructure costs

As an app owner, you must be aware of scalability. If your app gets more hits than expected, you must prepare to scale up server infrastructure. The opposite is also true: you must downscale to avoid unnecessary payments when user load decreases.

Therefore, it is always wise to reserve a certain budget for changes and stay in touch with the team that can help fast.

8 What to Pay Attention to When Choosing an App Development Company? (Checklist)

When looking for app developers, ensure the team is flexible, open, and ready to discuss issues with you.

When evaluating the future project team, examine the following points:

  • Invest time in research

Make your list of requirements for your future development team. Consider your priorities (cost of app development? code quality? timeline? etc.) Go through Clutch reviews to check how well the team coped with priorities same or similar to yours, e.g., Android app development.

  • Explore squad stability and company reviews

Check the company’s reviews and ratings provided by its current and former employees. You need specialists to fully focus on your project and not searching for a better place to work.
For instance, many of IT Craft’s leading specialists have been working for 5+ years in our company.

  • Carefully evaluate communication

Keep an eye on the team’s actions during and after calls. What questions do they ask? Are they transparent? Do they create a sense of urgency?
Ensure developers understand you and your concerns. They are on the same page regarding project goals and limits.

  • Put low estimates aside

An unreasonably low quote signals hidden costs. The project could cost you 2 – 3 more because of extra charges. Or because the company’s developers lack expertise. Avoid both scenarios.

  • Start with the discovery stage or a pilot task

It is safe to start with the discovery stage or a pilot task.
Both parties can evaluate each other and decide on the best cooperation terms. As the client, you determine whether the development team can handle it. The team better understands you and your project.

Here is a complete path to team selection in IT Craft’s Smart Guide to Software Development Outsourcing.

Are you looking for for the best team?

Download IT Craft’s Smart Guide to Software Development Outsourcing.

Download Now

FAQs

How much does app development cost?

It is hard to guestimate the costs of your mobile app without actual app requirements.
Depending on project complexity, the following costs are needed to develop and launch basic app functionality:

Basic apps: $10,000 – $16,500
Average-complexity apps: $40,000 – $71,500
Complex mobile apps: $75,000 – $220,000

How much does it cost to maintain an app?

On average, app maintenance costs make up 15% – 20% of total app development costs per year.

For example, if your app development costs you $50,000, maintenance costs will range between $7,500 and $10,000.

How much does it cost to build a custom app?

Unfortunately, there is no direct answer to this question. Any price range is based on average functionality. It might or might not align with your app.

Still, if you want an answer for your specific case, let’s do a discovery stage. Our team examines your idea or requirements and prepares a solid estimate.
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How long does it take to make an app?

Depending on project size and complexity:

simple app takes 1 – 2 months
middle-sized app takes 3 – 5 months
complex app requires 6 – 8 months

1. MVP of a driver management app for logistic businesses

2. Healthcare mobile application

3. Real estate mobile application

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