How Much Does It Usually Cost to Create a Mobile App?

These days, it seems like every business from major airlines to your local bakery has a mobile app. While that’s not quite the case, there are many compelling reasons why businesses large and small might want their own app. 

Apps can help you promote a new product or service. They also let businesses gather more data about customers, which improves your analytics. They can even streamline customer service in some cases.

The big stumbling block for most businesses is that solid data on how much it costs to create a mobile app is hard to find. If you’re in the market for a mobile app and want more info on cost, keep reading. Our guide will help you understand app development costs.

Developer Location

Whether you hire a single freelance developer or an app development company, their locations will play a big role in the cost of creating an app. As a general rule, app developers located in the US, Australia, and the UK charge the highest rates.

Outsourcing to South American, Eastern Europe, or Asia can potentially save you on the hourly rate, but that comes with its own set of tradeoffs.

Let’s say you run a US-based business. When you work with US developers, you get developers who:

  • Work on a similar schedule
  • Bring similar social customs to the table
  • Operate under the same or similar laws
  • Likely share your language

If you outsource to the UK or Australia, you give up the schedule advantage. Otherwise, you’re still operating on familiar ground.

Once you move into South America, Eastern Europe, or Asia, you’re often working on unfamiliar ground. The potential miscommunication, schedule issues, varying customs, and different legal standards can end up costing you in other ways.

App Complexity

Another major factor affecting price in mobile application development is the overall app complexity.

Think of it like buying any other custom item. If you go to a professional woodworker and ask for basic bathroom vanity, you’ll get a comparatively low price. If you ask for a complete set of custom kitchen cabinets designed to support stone countertops, the price goes way up.

If you just want an app that lets people sign into their account and check a few simple things, you’ll get an app that comes in on the cheaper side. However, let’s say you want to add in features such as:

  • Real-time shopping from current inventory
  • Payment gateways
  • Streaming video or audio
  • Data encryption
  • Offline operations

Adding these kinds of features pushing up the cost to make an app and the total time investment until completion. It will take the developer longer to write any custom code and work out the integration between components. It will also add time and complexity to the quality assurance testing.


The platform you want your app to work on plays a role in the price tag associated with developing an app. Right now, mobile apps operate on two primary platforms: iOS and Android. That might sound like good news, but it typically isn’t.

While iOS still commands a larger market share than Android, around 40% of Americans use Android phones. That means your average business can’t just build an iPhone app and call it a day. You at least need an Android-compatible app.

The second issue is that the iOS and Android platforms use different programming languages. Android uses Java, while iOS uses Swift. You can adopt one of three main approaches to dealing with this problem.

You can hire a developer that will write the apps for both platforms at the same time using the same specification. You can hire a developer for each language. You can hire a developer that uses a cross-platform development tool that generates code for both platforms.

No matter which option you choose, the extra work or extra expertise required will mean paying a premium for your app.

Independent Contractor Vs App Development Company

Independent contractors and app development companies both provide viable options for creating your app. They also represent two different kinds of cost analysis because they operate differently.

Independent Contractor

Your typical independent contractor operates as a solo act. They handle 100 percent of the app development personally. In most cases, they cost less than a development company at first blush.

That lower price comes at its own cost, though. Independent contractors almost never work exclusively on one project at a time. An independent developer might have three or four clients at any given time, with apps in several stages of development.

That means you must typically wait longer for the same app.

App Development Company

An app development company works with a team or even several teams of developers. Since all of those developers possess valuable programming skills, the cost goes up. Teams also need administrative support and management, which drive the price up.

You must often work to pierce the bureaucracy, which may drive your blood pressure up.

What you pay for here is, in large part, speed and oversight. The work of a team will move along faster than the work of one individual putting in part-time hours on your app.

How Much Does It Cost to Create an App?

The unfortunate reality is that it’s almost impossible to offer useful numbers about the cost of app development. For a bare-bones app without bells and whistles, you can probably expect to spend between $15,000 and $40,000. For a high-end app with lots of complex features, it can easily run you from $100,000 to $200,000.

Should You Create an App for Your Business?

While apps can offer benefits, you should do a careful analysis before you decide to create an app. At the very least, you should see a clear path for the app to pay for itself over time. That may mean reductions in customer service inquiries or more sales.

If you can’t see a way that the app will pay for itself, it becomes an expense and not an asset.

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