App Development Cost — A Full Breakdown

Oksana Zabolotna
HBD at Qubit Labs

App development is a booming market that attracts companies that build robust solutions. Statista shows that the total revenue is estimated to expand at an annual rate of 8.83% (CAGR 2022-2027), with a projected market volume of $673.80 billion by 2027. Various apps are popular among boomers, millennials, and Gen Zs, as proved by the number of app downloads in 2023, estimated at 257 billion. Despite its popularity and financial appeal, creating an app can be daunting due to technical complexity, market competition, regulatory compliance, and limited budget. However, what is the solution? 

More and more businesses opt for outsourcing. Companies outsource a part of their app development to other companies to cut costs, and it’s evident that all of them are interested in the app development cost and rates. But when it comes to showing app development rates, things are not as straightforward as they seem. Although many firms boast transparency and a client-oriented approach, you’ll hardly ever find their price list on the website.  Therefore, Qubit Labs conducted honest and unbiased research on the average cost of app development in Europe to reveal the hidden truth about outsourcing in 2024. In this article, you will find the answer to this million-dollar question, “How much does it cost to create an app?”

App Development Price Statistics

The app market is rapidly developing, and these stats prove this statement.

  • In 2023, yearly app expenses reached $171 billion.
  • A smartphone user uses an average of 30 mobile applications monthly or around 10 per day.
  • Mobile applications are predicted to produce over $935 billion in revenue by the end of 2024.
  • Currently, there are 1,757,732 apps on Google Play.
  • From 2016 to 2022, yearly app downloads increased by 82%.
  • The average smartphone user spends about three hours and ten minutes daily on their gadget.
  • App-based firms have an 825% greater IPO rate than non-app-based startups.
  • Apps utilize different monetization methods, including ads, in-app purchases, virtual currencies, and subscriptions.

Factors That Affect Application Development Costs

Check out this app development cost breakdown.

App Type

The type of application can significantly affect how much it costs to develop. Here is a brief breakdown of app types, cost, development time, and features.

App Type Features Estimated Time to Develop Estimated Cost
E-commerce Chats

Shopping carts

AI assistant

Search

Product reviews

Security features

4-12 months $30,000-$500,000
Game AR/VR 

multiplayer capabilities

Audio Effects

Graphics and animation

2-12 months + $10,000-$500,000+
Health & Wellness Combination with wearable gadgets

GPS & Location 

Personalization

Push Notifications

2-6 months $50,000-$250,000
Education Videos and live tutorials

multilingual assistance

Offline mode

Customization

3-6 months $25,000-$250,000
Social Media Profile creation

Comments and reactions submitting

Safe login

Content Sharing

Notifications

6-12 months $50,000-$500,000

Mobile app complexity

According to their complexity, apps can be divided into simple apps, apps of medium complexity, and complex applications.

App complexity Level of complexity Average timeline Average cost
Simple app Basic functionality without complex logic

Plain UI/UX

No server-side logic

2-3 months  $5,000-$50,000
Moderate complexity app Complex functionality

UI/UX with interactive elements

Integration with database or third-party APIs

Basic user authentication

3-9 months  $50,000-$120,000
Complex app Advanced functionality

Sophisticated UI/UX

Robust backend infrastructure

Advanced security features

Real-time features

Great scalability

10+ months  $100,000-$300,000

App features and functionalities

It is essential to understand the kinds of features and functionalities, their corresponding purposes, and the related expenses while developing a mobile application.

Features Function Time (Hours) Cost
User authentication Email/password login, login using e-mail address or social media profile 30-42 $500 – $1,000
User profiles Ability to create profiles, manage them, and upload a profile photo 30-40 $900 – $1,000
Push notifications Customizing notifications, message notifications 25-32 $1,000-$1,200
Payment integration History, balance check, and payment getaway integration 60-78 $2,500-$3,000
Geolocation Mapping services, location identification 100-120 $3,000-$4,000
Calls Audio/video calls, lists of contacts 300-400 $14,000-$15,000

App design & animation

There are two types of user interfaces: custom and standard. Custom design makes your product stand out among competitors and improves conversion rates. However, this design is usually costly. According to Influencer MarketingHub, 50% of customers think that the appearance of its website dramatically impacts a company’s brand. So, the power of a striking design shouldn’t be underestimated.

Process Design tasks Avg development time Avg cost
App design research The analysis of the market, competitors, and trends Determined individually $100-$350
UX design Development of rough sketches, creation of low-fidelity wireframes, and designing of high-fidelity wireframes Depends on complexity — from 10 to 150+ hours $2,000-$8,000
UI design Design of mood boards, creation of UI mockup samples, and UI mockup finalization Depends on complexity — from 14 to 100+ hours $10,000-$40,000
Branding Development of a brand identity Determined individually $5,000-$20,000
Animations and illustrations Creation of engaging visuals that bring user interactions and on-screen content to life. This includes developing animations for direct manipulation and visualizing user actions. Depends on animation’s complexity $1,000-$20,000

App platform

You can choose between several options: Android apps, web apps, iOS apps, or cross-platform mobile apps.

  • Native app platform (iOS/Android)

Several programming languages are used for native app development. Swift and Objective-C are used for iOS, and Java and Kotlin are needed for Android-based apps. The average cost is $50,000 to $100,000.

  • Web app platform

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) provide a great user experience. Development costs for web apps typically range from $15,000 to $50,000.

  • Cross-Platform Development

A cross-platform app is cost-saving because it reduces development effort and time by leveraging a single codebase. The average cost is $25,000 to $60,000.

  • Hybrid app platform

Hybrid apps combine elements of native and web apps. They are installed like native apps but run within a web view component, offering a versatile solution. Designing a hybrid app platform ranges from $10,000 to $150,000.

Does the type of operating system influence the cost of development? According to data collected by Clutch, developers do not increase the project’s price depending on the operating system. However, developing a native application for iOS and Android will cost twice as much, so many businesses choose to build a cross-platform application.

App Maintenance

Businesses must update their applications regularly to stay up with evolving market conditions and new device and OS versions, which costs money. A rule of thumb is to allocate a software maintenance cost of 15-20% of the initial app’s development cost per year. App maintenance incorporates various elements. Namely:

Hosting

Hosting for a media-rich application might cost between $70 and $320 monthly. There are various web hosting solutions: dedicated, VPS, and cloud. Dedicated hosting means your application’s server-side components are stored on physical servers that a hosting company often maintains.  VPS hosting implies dividing a real server into several virtual servers, each with its OS and features. Cloud hosting allows developers to simply deploy and manage their programs without worrying about hardware and networking, enhancing flexibility and scalability. Amazon AWS and Google Cloud are one of the most popular cloud hosting solutions.

Monitoring

Mobile app monitoring involves tracking and evaluating a mobile application’s performance, use, and health to ensure that it runs smoothly and provides an enjoyable user experience. Each app has a unique audience and a varying number of users, so the final cost of monitoring mobile apps cannot be estimated.

Engagement & Marketing

Establishing a marketing budget is important to promote your app. Many experts offer to allocate 12-20% of your total income to marketing. As your app grows more popular, you may reduce this amount to 6-12%. However, you should remember that spending much money on app promotion is only sometimes beneficial. You should focus on your cost per install (CPI). Use this formula to measure how much money you spend on each app installation. CPI = total ad spend total measured installs

App Updates

Every app, regardless of the platform, requires additional upgrades. Successive upgrades are an excellent tool for maintaining app user engagement. An update release on an app store can take around one hour. However, the time it takes to produce an update varies greatly and is determined by the program’s complexity.

Licenses

The development cost may increase dramatically if an app integrates with one or more technologies requiring a license. In some cases, it can reach $120,000 per year.

Code Reuse

When businesses opt to utilize the code of an existing application in their app while changing the branding aspects, the cost of mobile application development is significantly reduced. Usually, the cost of app development using existing codes is 20-30% cheaper than building an app from scratch. However, in this case, it is impossible to maintain a distinct brand identity.

Region

Western and Eastern Europe

The location of a development team plays a crucial role. In addition to salaries, various locations offer tax incentives and government policies that facilitate cooperation. 

Western Europe has a skilled workforce but higher rates compared to Eastern Europe. 

Clutch states that mobile app development rates in 2024 are the following:

  • USA $100 – $149/hr
  • United Kingdom  $25-$199/hr
  • Canada $25 – $99/hr, and some companies charge $100-$149/hr
  • Australia $100 – $149/hr
  • Spain $25 – $49/hr
  • Ukraine $25 – $49/hr
  • Poland $25 – $99/hr
  • Philippines – $25-$49/hr
  • Mexico – $25-$49/hr

Qubit Labs Research

The whole research took us two weeks. We selected companies and contacted and emailed them to collect the needed data. At the same time, we asked our in-house developers to estimate the same project. They weren’t informed that the estimation was a part of the research, so they didn’t underreport the time or rates.

Our first task was collecting a database of European software development companies, particularly mobile app developers. As you can guess, hundreds of them are in the region, so we had to choose only a few. What factors did we consider when selecting our “sample group”?

We focused on Western European and Scandinavian countries, primarily the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway, and the UK.

When we failed to receive at least one reply from the selected country, we took the data about offshore software development rates by country from Clutch.

The companies from the countries mentioned above had to meet the following requirements:

  • providing app development services;
  • working only with local teams;
  • don’t have R&D offices in Asia;
  • have proven experience.
Task

All the participants, including our mobile app developers, received the same technical description of the product. Their task was to develop an app for iOS and Android that would use GPS to determine location, filter the data according to users’ inquiries, and synchronize with Google Maps and Google Calendar.

Average cost of app development by country

Our mobile app developers said they would need about 400 hours to build an app like this. So did our Western colleagues, and this is the only convergence. Now, let’s examine the hourly rates by country in detail.

The Netherlands
The Netherlands is the country with the highest response rate. 40% of companies weren’t afraid of showing their hourly prices, which vary from $50 to $149. One of the companies warned that creating the app would cost us more than $60k.

France
Surprisingly, this country offered the lowest software development rates—$25-$99. Such prices are untypical for the Western European region, so they put us on the alert. Indeed, we found out the company has an R&D office in Africa, which allows them to reduce prices significantly. At the same time, many companies charge $100-$149 for their services.

Norway
Norwegian app development companies ignored our messages, so we took the prices from Clutch. The companies that claim themselves Norwegian charge $50-$99. Asian R&D changes the financial situation dramatically, as the prices drop to $25-$49 if there is an office in Vietnam or India.

Belgium
We took the prices from Clutch, and the spread between the lowest and the highest hourly rate is surprising – from $25-$99/hr (probably with a hidden R&D in Africa or Asia because the rates seem too low for the region) to $149.

The United Kingdom
You must pay a minimum of $54-74k and up to $100k. One company even boasted about making an app for $1 million.

Ukraine
Ukraine stays in the golden middle, being neither suspiciously cheap nor unreasonably expensive. So, if the average price of app development in Western Europe started from 60k, you can have your app built by paying four times less here in Kyiv. The average hourly rate for software development would vary from $25 to $49, depending on the team you need to hire.

Qubit Labs Research Insights

  • The initial stage of every research is creating a relevant database, where we got stuck. Finding a software development company without an R&D center in India, Pakistan, or the Philippines took a lot of work. So, instead of selecting a dozen candidates, we concentrated on taking 3-5 respondents. Thus, one of the pitfalls an average client will encounter is finding a local team.
  • Not only will you hardly find their prices on the website, but nobody will reveal the rates in the first message. You’ll have to write them persistently and follow up with them to understand the average software development rates. 68% of conversations start with the offer to talk by phone or Skype. It’s the vendor’s way of checking if you’re a real person and, in some cases, to sell you more services than you need. However, from the client’s part, such a procedure steals time if they only need to compare prices for developing the app and check if the budget covers the expenses.
  • If a web admin tracks your IP address and the country you come from doesn’t look rich enough, the chance that the agency will answer you is slim to none. Or they will consciously overprice your app development project. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we can help as the budget you have indicated would be lower than our minimum threshold for a project. […] That being said, we also don’t work with startups, so this isn’t the sort of project we’d be able to help with anyway.”
  • Norway appeared to be very reserved — we didn’t get any answers from them. Moreover, they don’t have a contact form on their websites, and half of the emails weren’t delivered as the indicated addresses do not exist. The country was listed among the ten best countries for business, but if you are looking for app development, it’s probably not a good idea to address a Scandinavian company.
  • The response rate of French companies is also low. However, they are not interested in soliciting customers as they are “fully booked for 2024.” Usually, you expect counteroffers to start cooperation ASAP, but that wasn’t the case. The possible explanation is a skill shortage. They would gladly grow their team to process more tasks, but they simply lack technical specialists in the area. Also, the company’s website in France stated that it had a single office in France. But we discovered they have got an R&D center in Africa in the course of communication. And the suspiciously low prices for Western Europe only double proved it. Why hiding? Firstly, clients prefer local teams because they are more reliable. Secondly, a remote R&D office makes development cheaper. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the client pays less. Tricky vendors feather their nests on the price difference.
  • Half of the respondent companies specialize not only in software development but also in marketing services. So, be ready for refusals explained by your product idea’s lack of marketing value. The following reply, “People that are looking for those information use Google to find what they need, they will not install an app, and if you want to make Google, the budget is unlimited,” sounds neither professional nor polite. Does the choice of clients spoil Belgian agencies so much?
  • More than a rough technical description is required. Instead of just prices, you’ll get lots of tech-related questions. And if you’re not a tech person, European vendors are unlikely to help you solve them or at least explain what is what and why it is essential. If you have an app idea, you must know how to materialize it.

5 Hidden Costs of Developing an App

App Store Fees

You should know the app store costs if you want to release your software through prominent marketplaces such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Amazon App Store.

  • The Apple App Store charges $99 annually to individuals and organizations wanting to publish their apps. However, the costs rise if you create and distribute an app among your employees; the price is $299/year. Besides, the App Store transaction fee is 15%.
  • The Google Play Store charges a $25 commission for registering a Google Play Development Account, and the transaction fee is 15%.
  • Amazon Appstore charges a 30$ fee for any purchase.

Marketing Cost

Your perfect marketing budget for app development should be approximately two to three times your original development cost. For instance, if your app development budget is $200,000, your marketing budget should be $400,000. Marketing services include social media advertising, search engine marketing, developing sales funnels, creating landing pages, professional copywriting, public relations campaigns, CRM, and email marketing tools.

Design Costs

The cost of UI/UX varies according to the project’s complexity. For instance, designing a simple app will take ~ 40 hours and cost ~ $1000, whereas a complex app will need ~ 380 hours to develop and cost over $9,000.

Testing and Debugging

Conduct testing across multiple devices and platforms to ensure your app runs smoothly across various platforms. Furthermore, the typical app development cost may increase if any problems or difficulties need to be resolved. Usually, a QA specialist charges $35/hour, but everything depends on the region. Qubit Labs can build a professional team of quality assurance specialists for you. We can source talent in Poland; they will deliver high-quality solutions at $25-$49 per hour.

Maintenance and Updates

In general, app maintenance costs range from 20% to 45% of the app development cost within the first year following development. Maintenance and updates usually involve bug fixes, OS updates, security updates, feature enhancements, performance optimization, and legal updates.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App Based on Development Stages?

Here is a breakdown of costs for every development stage.

Discovery Stage Cost

The discovery phase is the initial stage of the app development process. It identifies the client’s needs, plans project scope and releases, estimates costs and deadlines and manages hazards. The estimated price is $1,200-$11,000, and the timeframe is 2-4 weeks.

Cost of a Design Stage

The design phase involves crafting the app’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). This encompasses developing wireframes, creating prototypes, and working on the visual design to ensure the app is user-friendly and visually attractive. The estimated cost is  $2,500-$10,000, and the timeframe is 3-4 weeks.

Cost of a Development Stage

At this stage, developers use the chosen technology stack (e.g., Java, Swift, or Kotlin) to build the app. Depending on the project’s complexity, a large team works on different components, or a single developer might handle the entire app. Low-code platforms allow for custom app creation with minimal coding. When coding is necessary, developers collaborate with designers, QA engineers, and project managers, following the design blueprint to build a Minimum Viable Product. The estimated cost of this stage is $3,000-$60,000, and an approximate duration is 2-6 months.

Testing and Deployment Stage Cost

Testing ensures that apps match the original, established criteria and safeguards companies from launching low-quality applications. Testing applications ensures code dependability and reduces the number of errors customers face when using the app, enhancing user satisfaction.

In a test-driven development environment, developers create a deployment pipeline with numerous quality checks before automatically releasing the software to end users. Once the program is deployed, maintenance ensures that it is continuously improved, bugs are fixed, and code is refined. The estimated cost is <$5,000, and the time needed is 2-4 weeks.

How Can You Reduce Your App Development Costs?

Ways to Reduce Your App Development Costs

By implementing these practices, you can reduce your app development costs.

Prioritize Features Early On

It’s vital to prioritize features to ensure your app drives your business value. Implement the necessary features first and save the non-essential features for later app development stages. To prioritize tasks, define your goals, utilize a prioritization framework (e.g., Kano, MoSCoW, or RICE), test your assumptions, and cooperate with your team.

Involve Quality Assurance Early On

Integrate QA specialists to ensure you detect all bugs and errors before the development begins. This will save you a significant amount of time and money.

Plan For the Future

Creating an app is only half the journey. You should also prepare for regular upgrades and maintenance to maintain your app correctly. Use a modular development strategy to alter or replace specific characteristics without impacting the overall application. This will reduce the cost of future upgrades. 

Work With An Experienced Development Team

Experienced developers may offer significant insights and advice on cutting development costs while maintaining high quality. Look for a company with a track record of delivering high-end apps within your budget. Qubit Labs can help you build a professional tech team to develop an effective digital solution from scratch or refine an existing one. We hire talents worldwide and will provide you with a perfect match to meet your project and business needs.

Consider Cross-Platform Development

Creating a cross-platform app can save you time and money. Besides, cross-platform mobile frameworks enable maximum exposure to the target audience. For example, a single app may target both iOS and Android platforms, increasing the app’s reach. The most popular technologies are Flutter, React Native, Cordova, and Unity.

App Development Cost Calculators

  • Buildfire allows you to estimate your app development cost by choosing a type of app, its level of quality, features you would like to implement, user information and engagement, integration with other systems, monetization, hosting & maintenance.
  • App development cost is an app development cost calculator that provides detailed estimation based on different parameters.
  • How Much to Make An App is a handy app development calculator that analyzes an app type, login features, personal profiles, monetization, and design.

How to Choose an App Development Company?

Option #1: Hire a Local Agency

Partnering with a local agency will allow you to retain ongoing communication, get high-quality deliverables, and make the necessary modifications effortlessly. If the hourly rate is $100, and the project will take 400 hours to complete, the price will be $80,000.

Option #2: In-house Team

Hire onshore developers if your solution contains sensitive information and needs ongoing maintenance. The cost of hiring depends on your location. For instance, in the USA, a full-stack developer makes $117,880/year; in Germany, the salary for this position is €61,000 per year. If you have an internal workforce, you will ensure smooth processes within your team and company, but at the same time, you will be responsible for operational costs.

Option #3: Freelancers

Freelancers are cost-effective solutions for startups and companies that need specialists for short-term work. You can hire a skilled freelancer in Eastern Europe, Latin America, or Asia at an hourly rate of $15-$25. However, quality issues, poor communication, and a lack of accountability are potential pitfalls.

Option #4: Outsourcing

You can consider outsourcing if you have a small team, a limited budget, or tight deadlines. A mobile app development company will offer a unique combination of deep expertise in popular and rare programming languages and excellent communication skills. They deliver high-quality results at competitive rates. However, you don’t have much control over a team, and app security problems can be an issue. Usually, the cost of outsourcing mobile application development ranges substantially between $30,000 and $50,000.

Option #5: Outstaffing

Outstaffing is your win-win option if you want to focus on your business goals and allow an outstaffing vendor to handle recruiting, HR, onboarding, payroll, and retention. You can control your development team; a reliable vendor will do the rest. The benefits you get are first-class specialists who will be a great cultural fit and align with your business goals. Qubit Labs hires developers in Poland, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Georgia, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Brazil, and Mexico. Book a free consultation call with us to discuss all the details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who works on building a mobile app?

A top mobile app development team usually includes developers, designers, account managers, product managers, and digital marketers.

How long does the development of an app take?

A simple app can be built within 2-3 months, average app development requires 3-9 months, and complex apps can be developed within 10+ months.

How much does it cost to make an app?

App cost can be calculated as the product of two essential parameters: project complexity and app developer rates: Project complexity Hourly rates =App development cost

Here are the approximate costs:

The average app development cost of a simple project with basic features is $5,000 to $50,000.

Medium complex mobile app development costs $50,000-$120,000.

Complex app development costs $100,000-$300,000 or more.

How much does it cost to develop an app for iOS? Depending on various factors, the typical mobile app development cost ranges from $50,000 to $700,000.

Bottom Line

Thus, the app development cost depends on various factors, such as the app’s complexity, the number of features, its design, platform, app testing, maintenance, and the size and location of a development team. A company should pay around $5,000-$50,000 for a simple app with basic functionality. However, if you want to create a large-scale app with complex UI/UX, abundant features, and complicated logic, an approximate cost is $100,000-$300,000+. Nonetheless, you can save time and money if you cooperate with a professional development team that can accomplish all your tasks. Qubit Labs, a renowned outstaffing company with over ten years of experience, can help you build your dream team. Are you interested in hiring developers? Contact us and share your vision, business goals, and project requirements. We can match you with skilled specialists who will work within set deadlines, provide high-quality deliverables, and be flexible to align with your budget and corporate culture. Schedule a free consultation call to discuss all details.

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Oksana Zabolotna
HBD at Qubit Labs

HBD and Head of Partnerships at Qubit Labs. Oksana is proficient at Search Engine Optimization; performs as a speaker for international tech conferences; author of webinars and guides on peculiarities of remote recruitment, top markets for hiring IT experts, and latest tech trends. Oksana is one of the partners of Women in Tech Ukraine – large-scale social project created to increase the number of women in IT industry.