Today there are mobile apps for almost everything imaginable: making appointments, ordering food or cabs, buying groceries, learning languages, playing sports, and so on. And if you look at how lucrative this industry is, it’s not surprising that almost every brand wants its smartphone app. 

However, before they start developing an app, they probably need to ask themselves a fundamental question: How much does it cost to develop an app?

As complicated as that question is, we’ll try to answer it in this article – so if you’re thinking about getting your own new mobile app soon, keep reading.

Why is it so hard to estimate the cost of building an app?

It would be much more convenient for everyone if you could write to an app development company, ask for the cost of your new app, and get a fixed price in return, right? Unfortunately, app development is much more complicated than that. The cost of building your new app can vary greatly depending on factors such as:

  • The number of features in the app
  • Design requirements
  • Number of integrations
  • Type of app 

The more complex your future app needs to be, the more developers you’ll need on your team – and the more time they’ll need to make everything run smoothly. Add to that the costs of testing, bug fixes, maintenance, and hosting, which can vary from company to company, and you can see why it’s so hard even to estimate how much you’ll need in your app budget.

Another issue is choosing the right team for the task. It can be tempting to simply select the cheapest mobile app development in the hope of saving some budget, but it can happen that you will spend twice as much. If you hire people who need to gain the skills you need or have little experience with mobile app projects, you may have to pay extra later to rewrite or fix a non-functional app, in addition to losing time. Experienced app development teams are expensive, but for that price, you also get their help with research, planning, development, and subsequent updates.

What’s the difference between building an app and redesigning it?

One of the main things that play a significant role in how much your app will cost is how much you need to do. If you need to create an app from scratch, it will naturally cost more than if you went to a development team just to redesign an existing app. What exactly do developers have to do before your app is ready to go live, and how does that affect the cost? Let’s look at what goes into the cost of your new app.

Custom app

A custom app is created from scratch to meet the needs or requirements of your business. This option takes the longest and costs the most – because app developers need time to design the UI and UX of the app, implement the necessary features, and then test the app to make sure it works the way you want it to. 

But before they start development, they have to do a lot of research – gather your requirements, validate your app idea, analyze which specialists and tools would work best for the project, and then map out the entire app. Typically, you will also get an idea of the initial layout and interface of the app before you begin development. Once the app is ready, developers will also have to spend time testing the app and fixing any possible bugs they discover.

The amount of work is the main reason it’s so difficult to determine how much a custom app can cost – the final price can range from $20,000 to $500,000. But the more complex your app needs to be, the more time developers will have to spend on the research phase, increasing the cost.

App redesign

And in this case, the final cost will depend on how much you want to change and how many screens the developers will have to work on.

If your app just needs a new shell (for example, when your brand changes the logo’s colors) and a few interface changes, you’ll get your new app pretty quickly and without much strain on your budget. If your app seems outdated and you need a complete redesign or completely new functionality, then there are challenges – and high costs.

A drastic change to an application can cause performance problems or cause conflict between old and new components, which means a lot more work for developers. If you want to make significant changes to the look and feel of your old app, you may be better off creating an entirely new one – especially since the cost of a new app can be similar to redesigning the entire one.

Two types of apps: desktop app + mobile app or two apps for different platforms

Another thing that can increase the cost of a new app is the need to create two or more different types of apps – for example, one app for iOS and one for Android. In the past, the only way to ensure that an app would work on a particular device was to create an app designed to work on your chosen platform. Now, however, you can create a cross-platform app that can run on multiple platforms simultaneously. 

What are the differences between the two types?

Native apps: Cost of app development for desktop, iOS, and Android

Native apps are developed for a specific platform (Desktop, iOS, or Android) using software development tools and languages specific to that platform. Because such apps are optimized to run on a particular forum, they tend to be more secure, faster, and perform better. In addition, native development gives developers full access to the capabilities of a particular device, from the camera and microphone to the different types of sensors. 

On the other hand, cross-platform technologies such as Flutter also give access to the device’s capabilities, but to a limited extent, which means developers still have to create native code.

But unfortunately, this also means they are quite expensive since one application can only be used on a certain platform. So, for example, if you need a native app for Android, iOS, and desktops, you would have to ask a developer to create three separate apps.

Cross-platform app – the cost of developing an app is lower, BUT

The second option you have is to create a cross-platform application. A cross-platform app is one app that can run on any system. In this case, you don’t need to create three separate apps for desktop and mobile platforms, just one that can run on all three platforms. If you want to release your mobile app for multiple platforms but have a limited budget, cross-platform apps may be just what you need to reduce your app costs.

However, building a cross-platform app is a bit more complicated than a native app, and it may not be the best choice for some app ideas. Such apps can’t access some of the device’s internal features, have fewer features, and may run slower than native apps. Moreover, you need to make sure that you hire developers who are experienced in creating cross-platform apps, as there are small but significant differences between operating systems that can make implementing complex interfaces and features a challenge for less experienced developers.

What is included in the cost of application development?

Once you have decided whether you need a completely new application or it is enough to make a few changes to an existing one, it is time to formulate your requirements for the application. This stage is critical because the more details you can provide to the app development company, the easier it will be for them to estimate the cost of your new app. 

Here’s what you should specify:

  • How complex your new app needs to be
  • What platforms will the app run on, whether it will be native or cross-platform?
  • What features and integrations do you want in the app
  • What is your target audience is
  • Have you already done market research, or do you need help from a development company?
  • Do you need someone to create the entire design for you, or do you have a ready-made design and just need help implementing it?

After reviewing your requirements, a mobile app development company will tell you the approximate cost and time needed to create your app. However, once you receive the estimate, you may be shocked at how much your new app will cost – and how long it will take to create it.

Getting started

As you can see, the cost of an app varies greatly, and it is almost impossible to figure out how much you should have in your budget without asking for an estimate. The app development cost calculators you can find online can help determine your cost range, but they still don’t give you an accurate idea of the real cost of app development.

We can say that the two things that can have the most impact on your app budget are your requirements and the partner you choose. By focusing on the essential features and selecting the right partner, you can be sure that your new app will perform exactly as you envisioned. To learn a little more, you can send us a quote, and we’ll give you an accurate estimate of the cost of your project.