How much does it cost to develop an app from scratch in 2023?

How much does it cost to develop an app from scratch in 2023?

Mobile apps have become a necessity for businesses, with a digital presence now essential to stay competitive. Understanding the cost of app development is crucial in bringing your app idea to life.

Over the past five years, global app downloads have surged from 140 billion in 2016 to 230 billion in 2022, indicating the rapid growth and importance of the app market in marketing strategies for businesses. Creating an app has become an essential step for any business, but the question remains: how much does it cost to make an app?

Number of mobile app downloads worldwide

The cost of app development varies depending on the project's unique requirements. Mobile app development costs differ from web app costs, and the complexity of features plays a significant role. More intricate features naturally incur higher costs compared to standard components.

In this article, we will explore the factors that impact app development cost estimates and shed light on the average cost of various app development projects, whether you have an existing business looking to go online or a startup seeking to outsource development.

Ultimately, understanding the key elements influencing app development costs is vital to getting started on the path toward creating a successful app for your business.

The Idea Behind App Development

To get a better understanding of the various app development costs, you can explore services offered by expert developers like Jointoit, who cater to diverse app requirements. Visit our product page for insights and assistance in app development. 

Application development cost refers to the investment required to conceptualize, design, and launch an app that addresses specific business challenges for organizations. This cost is influenced by several factors:

  1. The complexity of the app: Apps with intricate features and functionalities often demand more resources and development efforts, resulting in higher costs.
  2. Platform: The choice of platform, such as iOS or Android, can impact the overall development cost due to the need for separate coding and optimization.
  3. Location of the development team: App development costs can vary depending on the region in which the development team operates, as labor costs differ across countries.
  4. Features and functionalities: The more advanced and unique the features required, the greater the cost to develop an app.

The cost breakdown for app development includes design, development, testing, and deployment expenses. Social media apps, with their intricate features and high user engagement, often demand more extensive development efforts, translating to higher costs. On the other hand, simple utility apps may require fewer resources, resulting in a more budget-friendly development process. For instance, a social networking platform that facilitates multimedia sharing and real-time interactions could be more costly to build compared to a straightforward to-do list application.

Understanding the Process of App Development

App Development Process

App development involves a systematic approach with distinct stages that contribute to the overall cost of the project. Understanding each stage is essential for creating a successful and budget-conscious app. Let's break down the process into key stages:

  1. Discovery: The company offers the customer a research phase to collect all the data related to the target audience, the functionality of the project, and other features and describe it all in the project requirements. The team will adhere to these requirements throughout the development and testing process.
  2. Design: The design phase focuses on creating the app's user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). It includes wireframing, prototyping, and graphic design to ensure an intuitive and visually appealing app. The design stage can significantly impact the cost, as high-quality design work may require the expertise of skilled designers.
  3. Development: The development stage is the core of app creation, where the actual coding and programming take place. The complexity of the app's features, the number of platforms (iOS, Android, etc.), and the chosen development approach (native, hybrid, or cross-platform) all play a significant role in determining the cost. More complex features and multi-platform support can increase development expenses.
  4. Testing: Thorough testing is crucial to identify and resolve any bugs or issues before the app is launched. Testing involves quality assurance (QA) and user testing to ensure a smooth user experience. While investing in robust testing may increase the development cost, it can prevent expensive fixes post-launch and improve the overall app performance.
  5. Deployment: The final stage is deployment, where the app is submitted to the respective app stores for distribution. Proper deployment strategies and app store optimization contribute to user acquisition and app visibility. This stage has a relatively lower cost compared to other stages.

Overall, the cost to create an app is influenced by the complexity of features, design requirements, development scope, and testing efforts. Additionally, factors such as hiring skilled developers, utilizing specialized technologies, and integrating third-party services can also impact the cost.

Factors Influencing App Development Cost

How much does an app cost? The app development cost can vary significantly based on several factors that impact the complexity, scope, and quality of the final product. Understanding these factors is crucial for businesses and individuals seeking to create a successful app while managing their budget effectively. Similar to any software development project, the cost of your app development will depend on the scope and complexity of your project. As a rough estimate, app development costs can range from $5,000 to $500,000.

Platform Choice

When embarking on the development of a new mobile application, one of the initial technical considerations is whether to opt for native or cross-platform technology.

Native apps are constructed using platform-specific technologies, such as Swift for iOS applications and Kotlin or Java for Android. They fully harness the unique features of each mobile platform but necessitate separate codebases and expertise in different programming languages.

On the other hand, cross-platform apps are developed using technologies like Flutter or React Native, enabling them to run on multiple platforms. Although they cannot fully leverage the specific functionalities of iOS and Android like native apps, they offer the advantage of a single codebase and programming language with the help of common wrappers.

The cost of iOS app development varies between $50,000 and $400,000, depending on the intricacy and complexity of the idea.

For Android mobile applications, the development cost falls within the range of $40,000 to $300,000, influenced by factors such as app complexity, compliance laws, and other intricacies.

Cross-platform mobile app development typically ranges from $90,000 to $500,000, with the final cost determined by the app's complexity and specific requirements.

Complexity and Features

How much does it cost to create an app? To estimate the app development cost accurately, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the app's features. Both the quantity and complexity of features play a vital role in determining the development hours and the final app type.

Complex features typically require more development time, leading to higher overall development costs. To calculate the app cost, you can use the formula: 

features X development time per feature X hourly rate = app cost.

While curating the list of features, it is advisable to consider long-term business objectives and prioritize those of interest to your target audience. In some cases, developers may need to include pre-designed templates or third-party APIs, which add upfront costs but reduce development time.

Basic features common to different types of apps include user authentication, app navigation, chat/messaging, search or filter functionality, and push notifications.

More complex features can include payment plugins or integrations, audio or video streaming, geolocation, analytics, data encryption, offline mode, and third-party connectivity with devices.

If budget constraints exist, prioritizing features within the budget range and incorporating user feedback for future feature additions or improvements can be a practical approach.

By carefully considering the app's features and aligning them with your budget and business goals, you can create a well-balanced and successful app development strategy.

Location and Size of the Development Team

The cost of creating an app can vary based on the service provider chosen - be it a prominent mobile app development company, a specialized firm, or an independent developer. Larger organizations with separate departments handling each development task often lead to higher expenditures. In contrast, startups or independent developers may offer a lower price to develop an app as they have a smaller team performing multiple tasks.

A basic development team typically includes a project manager, business analyst, programmer, QA engineer, and UI/UX designer. For more extensive projects or complex apps, an extended team comprising 2-4 app developers, a project manager, a backend developer, a system administrator, 1-2 UI/UX designers, and a QA engineer may be required, resulting in increased costs.

The location of the development team is another significant factor impacting the development cost. Hourly rates for app development vary depending on the country or region. For instance, the average hourly rate for app development in the United States is $70 - $130, whereas app developer cost is $30 - $50 in countries like Ukraine and Poland. 

Region Hourly Rate (USD)
North America $60 - $130
Western Europe $40 - $80
Eastern Europe $35 - $65
Latin America $35 - $70
Asia $20 - $45

The cost is influenced by labor expenses and infrastructure costs, with higher-income countries generally having higher hourly rates and more expensive infrastructural resources. Office space, electricity, and internet connectivity in cities like San Francisco, New York, or Tokyo can be expensive compared to other cities or countries where these costs are more affordable.

Cost Breakdown

Cost Breakdown for app development involves budget allocation for various aspects, such as App Design, encompassing UI/UX creation and prototyping, to ensure a visually appealing and user-friendly interface. App Functionality and Features play a significant role in determining the average cost to develop an app, with complex features requiring more resources and development time than basic functionalities. App Maintenance costs should also be considered in the budget, as ongoing support, updates, and bug fixes are essential to keep the app running smoothly and ensure a positive user experience.

JoinToIT distinguishes itself by offering clients a complimentary 3-month support period once their app development project is successfully implemented. This extra level of service ensures that clients have access to expert assistance and troubleshooting during the crucial initial phase of their application. With JoinToIT's free support, clients can rest assured that their app will receive the necessary attention and optimization for a smooth user experience.

App Design

The UI/UX (user interface and user experience) of an application is a critical factor that can significantly influence the cost of mobile app development. UI/UX encompasses how the app appears and functions, affecting its usability. An app with poor UI/UX can deter users, as around 88% are unlikely to revisit such apps. Here are some examples of how UI/UX can impact app development costs:

  1. User Testing: Extensive user testing to ensure an intuitive and user-friendly UI/UX can increase development costs. Gathering feedback and making necessary changes require additional time and resources.
  2. Iterative Design: If the app requires an iterative design to refine the UI/UX, development costs can rise. Multiple design concepts are created and tested to determine the most effective solution.

UI/UX designers also create app prototypes, allowing clients to assess the app's look, feel, and capabilities before the coding phase. The cost of design typically ranges from $5,000 to over $25,000, depending on the number of screens and the overall complexity of the solution.

While investing in high-quality UI/UX design may increase the development cost, the long-term benefits in terms of user retention and positive user experiences are well worth the investment. By prioritizing UI/UX design and collaborating with skilled designers, app creators can build a successful app that delights users and achieves business objectives.

App Functionality and Features

In mobile app development, specific features have a profound impact on the overall development cost due to their complexity and the additional resources they demand.

For user login and authentication, creating a secure and robust system involves encryption, data storage, and validation mechanisms, which require significant time and expertise, thus contributing to higher development costs.

Integrating a payment gateway for in-app purchases or transactions demands adherence to strict security standards and payment processor guidelines, leading to added complexity and development efforts, thereby increasing costs.

Incorporating geolocation services to enable location-based functionalities, such as mapping and tracking, entails integrating third-party APIs and complex algorithms, elevating the app development cost.

Implementing push notifications necessitates connecting with cloud-based services and customizing notifications based on user behavior, requiring additional development effort and contributing to increased expenses.

Integrating social media features, such as content sharing or social logins, involves interactions with various social media APIs and customization, adding to the overall development expenses.

Developing an offline mode that allows users to access certain app features without an internet connection demands significant effort for local data storage and synchronization, leading to increased development costs.

Features like in-app messaging or chat require real-time communication, data synchronization, and message encryption, resulting in a time-consuming process that impacts the cost to develop app.

Implementing data encryption and heightened security measures, such as secure file storage or end-to-end encryption, necessitates specialized development and security testing, contributing to increased costs.

Providing multilingual support requires content translation and app design adjustments to accommodate different languages, extending development time and raising costs.

App Maintenance

Considering app maintenance costs is an essential aspect when developing an app. It is customary to allocate around 15% to 20% of the initial apps development cost for yearly maintenance. App maintenance includes bug fixing, incorporating new features, ensuring compatibility with the latest OS versions, and more, depending on the complexity of the features.

App maintenance is a vital service, even if there are no plans to scale up or add new features. As the app becomes more complex, maintenance costs will naturally increase. The maintenance process involves continuous bug fixing, enhancing stability and performance, optimizing code, supporting the latest OS versions, developing new features, and updating third-party services.

The partnership with the development team doesn't end after the app is ready; it is an ongoing process. Software development companies usually have terms for post-release support. Before hiring a development team, it is crucial to discuss the ongoing maintenance costs. Typical engagement may include 6-months to a year of app support to uncover and resolve any initial bugs and errors. Proper maintenance ensures the app remains up-to-date, reliable, and capable of meeting user expectations in the long run.

App Development Cost Estimate

Cost Of App Development

The development time and effort required for a mobile app increase with its complexity and interesting features. Apps can be broadly classified into three categories based on complexity: 

  • Minimum Viable Products (MVP)
  • Apps of medium complexity
  • Complex apps. 

An MVP with basic features typically takes 3-5 months to develop, a medium app requires around 6-7 months, while a complex application may need more than 9 months.

How much does developing an app cost? The cost of developing a simple app ranges from $5,000 to $25,000. These apps include basic user features like a login system, user profiles, a dashboard, and limited administration.

For a medium complex app, the cost lies between $25,000 to $100,000. Such apps offer a wide range of user engagement and app monetization features in addition to the basic ones. They may include social media integrations, payment gateways, audio/video streaming, and enhanced user privacy.

Complex apps can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 and beyond. They incorporate advanced technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. Complex apps also feature multi-language support, intricate data logic, and more.

The type of app being developed also affects the overall cost for app development. Mobile apps often require development for both iOS and Android platforms, adding complexity and expenses. Apps can be categorized into various types, including:

  • Social media Apps (e.g., Facebook, Instagram);
  • E-commerce Apps (e.g., Amazon, eBay);
  • Gaming Apps (e.g., PUBG Mobile, Candy Crush Saga);
  • Education Apps (e.g., Duolingo, Coursera);
  • Healthcare and Fitness Apps (e.g., Peloton, MyFitnessPal);
  • Travel Apps (e.g., Airbnb, Google Maps);
  • Productivity Apps (e.g., Trello, Evernote);
  • On-Demand Apps (e.g., Uber, Postmates).

Understanding the complexity of the app and its type is crucial for businesses to plan their app development projects effectively and manage their budgets wisely. Proper budget allocation and consideration of the app's features are essential for delivering a successful and competitive mobile application.

How to Save Cost in App Development

If you aim to transform your business and optimize operations through digital app development, here are several cost-effective approaches that can be highly useful to further reduce the average cost of developing an app:

  • First of all, create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or prototype. With this, you'll be able to validate ideas, avoid wasting resources on unnecessary features, and save both time and money.
  • Utilize ready-made solutions and libraries. Not every project requires building everything from scratch, as there are proven and reliable components that can be integrated into your application. For example, you can use Firebase to provide authentication services, databases, analytics, and more. Alternatively, you can use Jetpack Compose to simplify user interface development on Android.
  • Focus on Essential Features. To manage app development costs, concentrate on features that directly impact business functions. Investing more time and resources in non-essential features can lead to unnecessary expenses.
  • Choose a cross-platform framework. If you need to create an application for various operating systems, this will allow you to write one codebase that works on Android, iOS, and other platforms. This way, you'll save time and money on development and testing. Some popular frameworks for cross-platform development include Flutter, React Native, and Ionic.
  • Involve users in the development process and gather their feedback. This will help you identify issues and shortcomings in your application at early stages and avoid unnecessary features or changes. You can use various methods to gather feedback, such as surveys, interviews, analytical tools, or A/B testing.

Final Thought

Understanding the cost of app development is essential for businesses looking to transform and stay competitive in the modern market digitally. While the costs of making an app can vary based on factors like complexity, features, platform choice, and development team location, it is crucial to prioritize the quality and value the app brings to users. Planning carefully and having a clear understanding of the costs of creating an app can help effectively manage the budget.

By prioritizing prototyping, utilizing ready-made templates, focusing on essential features, and implementing a simple yet appealing UI, businesses can reduce development costs while delivering an intuitive and user-friendly app.

App maintenance is another important aspect to consider, as it ensures ongoing support, bug fixing, and feature enhancements to keep the app running smoothly and meeting user expectations. Proper maintenance helps businesses stay ahead in the competitive app market.

To avoid significant errors and embark on a successful app development journey, it is advisable to get professional advice from our specialists. Our expertise and diverse app development services can provide valuable insights and assistance tailored to specific business needs.

While cost plays a significant role, it is ultimately the quality, functionality, and user experience of the app that will determine its success. Careful planning and understanding of costs are essential to create a compelling app that resonates with users and fulfills business objectives. Take the first step in transforming your business through app development, and explore the services offered by JoinToIT for expert guidance and support in bringing your app idea to life. Start planning your app development project today to seize the opportunities in the dynamic world of mobile applications.


Why does the cost of app development vary so much between different developers or agencies?

The cost variation is mainly due to differences in expertise, location, team size, development complexity, and design requirements, leading to different pricing models. It is essential for businesses and individuals to consider these factors and choose a development partner that aligns with their budget and project requirements while ensuring high-quality results.

How much does it cost to update an app once it's already published on the App Store or Google Play Store?

The cost of updating an app can vary depending on the extent of the update and the complexity of the changes. Minor updates, such as bug fixes or small feature enhancements, may have lower costs as they require less development time and resources. Major updates that involve significant changes to the app's design, functionality, or compatibility with new operating system versions can be more expensive. 

Does the use of advanced technologies like AI or AR/VR significantly increase the cost of app development?

Yes, the use of advanced technologies like AI or AR/VR can significantly increase the cost of app development. Developing AI-based features, such as natural language processing or machine learning algorithms, involves complex programming and data processing. Integrating AR/VR functionality requires additional development effort, including 3D modeling, rendering, and optimizing performance for a seamless user experience. Moreover, implementing advanced technologies often requires third-party API integration or licensing, which can incur extra costs.

What are the hidden costs in app development that one should be aware of?

Several supplementary expenses contribute to the overall cost of developing an app. Functional costs include fees for integrating third-party services, such as SMS or push notifications, geolocation, or payment gateways. Admin or management costs may include salaries for personnel involved in app management. Infrastructural costs encompass payments for servers, CDNs, and integrations like Redis. Support charges are additional costs for updating the application, fixing bugs, or implementing future improvements to ensure the app's smooth operation.

How does app monetization strategy impact the initial development cost?

The app monetization strategy can have a significant impact on the initial development cost. If the chosen monetization model involves complex features like in-app purchases, subscription management, or ad integration, it will require additional development effort and resources, resulting in higher upfront costs. On the other hand, a simple monetization strategy, such as offering a paid app or using basic advertisements, may have a lesser impact on the initial development cost.

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