Quick Summary: This blog is an in-depth analysis of a step-by-step breakdown of mobile app development costs. Decision-makers will be able to find all the necessary information regarding the essential factors that help in determining the cost along with some helpful strategies to reduce those development costs.

Mobile app development is a revenue-generating niche that reached USD 475.90 billion in 2022 and continues to attract billions of dollars. However, deciding the cost of mobile app development and making it successful is a process that involves making choices at every step.

If you have an idea and budget estimate to discuss with the developers, you should have a detailed and clear picture of all the aspects you need to consider. This blog will give a step-by-step breakdown of the mobile app development costs to all the decision-makers.

Let’s move on to the following sections, where we help you understand the essential factors determining these costs. We will also discuss some hidden costs that affect the development along with the best ways to reduce them.

How to Optimize Mobile App Development Cost?

It’s crucial to research your target audience to help you prioritize which platform you need to choose. For cost-effective options, choose React Native or Flutter, as they enable you to use a single codebase. Besides, it’s always better to keep the design of the user interface simple to save on costs generated by adding complex features.

A. Cost-saving Strategies

Building an app makes it crucial for you to prioritize app features for app development cost breakdown. Prioritizing some of the app functions will give you clarity on which of these are impactful enough to start driving your business revenue quickly. The rest of the features you can save for later when you receive user feedback.

1. MVP Development

An MVP provides initial feedback from the users by launching the simplest version with only the basic features. The feedback helps organizations plan a budget to build the features that would solve their pain points and provide users maximum benefits while using your mobile app. When your focus is only on developing the most important features, you save a lot of development money.

2. Lean Development Practices

Lean development helps app development teams to focus more on eliminating excess code and features, minimizing labor costs, and reducing complexity. By emphasizing continuous improvement, it helps teams rectify issues early in development and reduces the cost of addressing them later.

3. Efficient Resource Allocation

Strategically allocate resources by prioritizing essential features, reducing unnecessary complexities, and optimizing development processes to streamline costs without compromising quality.

B. Outsourcing vs. In-house Development

Weigh the benefits of outsourcing against in-house development. Outsourcing offers cost-effective access to skilled talent, saving on salaries, infrastructure, and operational expenses.

Without any compromise on quality, outsourcing is a cost-effective solution for app development. According to reports, outsourcing can help save between 30% – 70% development costs as it eliminates the finances spent on recruiting and training.

C. Open Source and Third-party Tools

Open-source software can significantly reduce development costs as it is freely available. It helps developers to eliminate the need to purchase expensive software licenses. Developers have access to a wide range of pre-built tools and high-quality code libraries, resulting in accelerated project timelines and lowered labor costs.

1. Utilizing Existing Libraries and Frameworks

Leverage open-source libraries and frameworks to avoid building functionalities from scratch, significantly reducing development time and associated costs.

2. Licensing and Customization Costs

Choose cost-effective third-party tools with scalable licensing options. Prioritize customization only where essential to minimize development expenses while meeting specific requirements.

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Factors that Determine the Mobile App Development Cost

Generally, the starting cost for simple mobile apps can be as low as $5,000 and can go up to a staggering high of even more than $300,000. On the other hand, complex applications like Netflix need complicated features that cost the organization up to $250,000. But the best way to estimate the cost of a mobile app development lifecycle is to get an idea from the developers.

Mobile App Cost Per Development Phase

To calculate the expenditure, a simple formula is:- 

Formula for Calculating Mobile App Development Cost

Let’s discuss the most essential factors affecting the cost of the mobile app development process.

A. Development Platform

Mobile app development is a competitive industry with numerous industries like food delivery apps, social media apps, transportation apps, etc. When working on dedicated platforms, you can hire iOS developers or Android developers separately. 

1. iOS vs Android

Depending on the target audience, you can choose custom app development for either one of them or simultaneously develop apps for each platform. If you’re looking for low-cost mobile app development, you can start by developing for one platform and then shift to others.

2. Cross-platform Development

A cross-platform app would cost less because it uses a single codebase for developing simultaneous applications. Currently, React Native and Flutter rule the cross-platform mobile app development industry.

Here’s an overview of different apps with average costs and hours to develop:

Application Type Avg Development Cost Development Hours
Web App $5,000 – higher limit requirement basis 800 – 1200+
Native Mobile App (iOS, Android) $10,000 – $100,000 800-1000+
Hybrid Mobile App $10,000 – $150,000 800-1200+
E-commerce App $4,000 – $50,000 1000 – 1200
Social Media App $25,000 – higher limit based on requirement 1000 – 1400+
Learning App $20,000 – based on the features added 1000 – 1200+
Dating App $20,000 – based on the features added 1200 – 1400+
Gaming App $10,000 – $100,000 1200 – 1800+
Taxi App $12,000 – $50,000 1400 – 1600+
Video Streaming App $15,000 – based on the features added 1200 – 1600+
Restaurant App Based on requirement 1200 -1600+
Shopify App $2,500 – $25,000 500 – 800
WooCommerce App $2,500 – $25,000 500 – 800

B. App Complexity

Native app platforms are the perfect choice for iOS-specific and Android-specific budget-friendly app development. They enhance the performance of your mobile app by increasing the responsiveness to device features without compromising quality.

The Hybrid apps are developed to work on both iOS and Android platforms. Writing in web-based language and then rendering natively. It follows a “write once, run anywhere” philosophy. 

App Category/ Platform Native Hybrid Cross
Simple Cost – $10,000 – $40,000

Development time – 

200 – 400 hours

Features – 

  • Login/Sign Up
  • Profile making, editing
  • Dashboard
  • Search
  • Messages
  • Notifications
Cost – $6,000 – $24,000

Development time –

150 – 300 hours 

Features – 

  • Login/Sign Up
  • Profile making, editing
  • Dashboard
  • Search
  • Messages
  • Notifications
Cost – $6,000 – $24,000

Development time – 

150 – 300 hours

Features –

  • Login/Sign Up
  • Profile making, editing
  • Dashboard
  • Search
  • Messages
  • Notifications
Medium Cost –$40,000 – $100,000 

Development time – 800 – 1200 hours

Features –

  • Integrating Social media
  • In-App Purchase
  • Geo-location tagging
  • Payment Portal
Cost – $40,000 – $100,000 

Development time – 500 – 1000 hours

Features – 

  • Integrating Social media
  • In-App Purchase
  • Geo-location tagging
  • Payment Portal
Cost – $40,000 – $100,000 

Development time – 500 – 1000 hours

Features – 

  • Integrating Social media
  • In-App Purchase
  • Geo-location tagging
  • Payment Portal
Complex Cost – $50,000 –  $300,000

Development time – 1000 – 1500 + hours

Features –

  • Advanced user authentication and security
  • Push notifications
  • In-app purchases and payment
  • Integration with APIs and databases
  • Custom animation
  • GPS & and location-based services 
  • Offline functions and data sync
  • Complex data handling and processing
Cost – $25,000 – $1.5million

Development time – 500 – 1500 + hours

Features – 

  • Advanced user authentication and security
  • Push notifications
  • In-app purchases and payment
  • Integration with APIs and databases
  • Custom animation
  • GPS & and location-based services 
  • Offline functions and data sync
  • Complex data handling and processing
Cost – $30,000 –  $300,000

Development time – 600 – 2000 + hours

Features – 

  • Advanced user authentication and security
  • Push notifications
  • In-app purchases and payment
  • Integration with APIs and databases
  • Custom animation
  • GPS and location-based services 
  • Offline functions and data sync
  • Complex data handling and processing

1. Simple vs. Complex Apps

Some features, like simple login, dashboard, etc., qualify for a simple app. However, features like geolocation tagging, in-app calls, etc., are considered to increase an app’s complexity, which makes the app stand out. Hence, implementing them is a complicated task.

2. Feature Requirements

Adding complex features like API integration, UI/UX design, front-end development, and backend development and selecting a database for mobile app storage and processes – all these affect hourly wage rates according to the region and type of platform.

C. Design and User Interface

An impeccable design and user interface of your mobile App directly impact your sales. For example, gaming apps build their brands through an interactive experience, making them the highest revenue maker in the app category, with USD 89.25 billion in 2023.

1. Basic vs. Custom Design

The complexity of mobile app design, choosing between basic and custom UI/UX elements, influences costs. Custom designs tailored to user experience generally incur higher development expenses.

2. UI/UX Considerations

UI/UX considerations play a pivotal role in impacting user satisfaction and engagement.  User-centric design should be the primary focus, with intuitive navigation besides a responsive layout to maintain consistency across platforms.

D. App Functionality

Prioritizing the App’s functionality at an early stage is a wise step toward sticking to the app development budget. It’s smart to prioritize your App’s capabilities to begin creating commercial value as soon as possible. MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is an excellent way to start, then move up to commercialize it and rectify it according to the user feedback.

1. Core Functionalities

The intricacy and number of core functionalities you include in the architecture of your mobile app directly impact development costs. Complex features or extensive functionalities contribute to a higher budget requirement.

2. Third-party Integrations

Integration of third-party services or APIs can affect costs. Customizing and incorporating external features may require additional development efforts, impacting overall expenses.

E. Development Team

Depending on the area where you launch your firm, the hourly costs for a design and development team range from $150 to $250 per specialist. For example, the cost of employing developers in the United States is 2x-3x that of hiring developers in Asia. The USA offers both price and quality. 

1. In-house vs. Outsourcing

Building an in-house team is a good choice if eyeing a complex project and high mobile app security. When dealing with some sensitive information, the in-house team is what you want.

If your project necessitates more workers and professionals working on it, the availability of high-quality software, and experience promoting apps, consider outsourcing app development.

2. Location of the Development Team

The common reason accounts for factors like standard of living, avg. Wages, etc. In regions like North America, the average wages are higher than in the rest of the world, contributing to higher prices.

Region Rate Per Hour Development Hours
North America & Canada $100 – $250 1200
Australia $100 – $130 1200
European region
Western European region(U.K, Germany, France ) $80 – $180 1200
Eastern European region(Ukraine, Poland, Romania) $30 – $80 1200
Asian region
India and nearby region $20 – $50 1200
Southeast Asia(Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines) $20 – $35 1200

F. App Maintenance and Updates

Your optimum app development project marketing cost should be two to three times your initial development cost. For example, if the cost of developing your chat App is $100,000, you should estimate between $200,000 and $300,000 for marketing expenses each year. 

1. Ongoing Support Costs

Maintenance might be scheduled, performed on-demand, or both. The best budget for app maintenance is twice the cost of development. The following will account for the majority of maintenance costs: 

  • App registration and subscription,
  • Services for cloud hosting, 
  • Fees for server subscriptions, infrastructure expenditures, third-party integrations, SSL, and a technical support team.

2. Regular Updates and Improvements

The frequency and scope of app updates significantly impact costs. Regular updates for mobile app security, features, and compatibility contribute to ongoing development expenses.

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The Titans Decided to Do It This Way!

1. Facebook

Facebook’s early development cost was reportedly approximately $500,000. Due to its extensive development efforts, apps like Facebook have a development time of around months to a year.

2. Uber

Apps like Uber cost around $30,000 to $100,000 with complex features such as in-app calling and geolocation tagging. The development time comes around a few months.  

3. Whatsapp

WhatsApp’s development cost was approximately $250,000. Messaging applications like WhatsApp take nearly a year to build—additional time for updates like the recently launched in-app payment option. 

4. Instagram

Instagram’s development cost was reportedly between $500,000 and $1 million. Building an application like Instagram takes between 6 and 12 months. 

5. Snapchat 

Snapchat’s development cost was reportedly $4 million. If you are eyeing a sophisticated app like Snapchat, assume a good nine months to 18 months for development time.

6. TikTok

TikTok’s development cost was reportedly around $1 million. A short video-sharing application like TikTok takes 6 to 12 months to develop.

Things To Know When Choosing a Mobile App Development Company

There are some things to remember when choosing a mobile app development company for your project. 

1. Take Control In Your Hands

If you already have a vision, knowledge about your application’s needs will always keep you updated with the latest trends in the mobile app development industry. For example, integrating AI chatbots can give you a competitive edge over others.

Or else, find an experienced mobile app developer who will help you clear your mind about the allotted development funding, development schedule, and platforms on which it will run.

2. Try to Choose Full-service Companies

Working with expert app development companies, who have established themselves in the field for years, can prove highly profitable for your app.

If you work with such a firm, you won’t need to search elsewhere for further assistance or services. They can give you all the resources you need at every stage of developing an application, including design, development, and app testing.

3. Asking a Few Questions Never Hurt Anyone

Asking the correct questions at the correct time is your next need. One-to-one interviews with the developer with crucial information will help you give clarity and make them understand that you both are on the same page. Ideas are exchanged, and knowing their previous experience will make brainstorming with them easier. 

4. Researching Your Way Through

You have a unique application in your mind. Research the applications the firm has already made. Judge them on a non-technical note, including the ease of use, technicalities, user-friendliness, and time to upload on the web and mobile.

How Can Moon Technolabs Help with Mobile App Development Services?

Evidence proves better than words. Our mobile app development services are the talk of the town, with customers profiting from the applications and satisfied with the work. Our mobile app developers understand your opinions and value your time and money.

They have demonstrated expertise and experience working on numerous complicated projects, allowing them to rise to any challenge. Hire iOS developers for any of the Apple projects you have in mind. Hire Android developers if you are planning to launch your Android app.

Time and Money Savings

The cost of using our mobile app development services is competitively low. We ensure that the resources are utilized effectively and practically. Because time and money are valuable resources, the land we believe in saving, be it your data, time, money, or ideas.

Credible and Trustworthy

To provide you with complete ownership and validation of the app design or app idea, our developers sign an NDA. We value privacy and protect customer-sensitive information.

Perception and Transparency from Our Developers

Convey your ideas, and our developers will understand your vision. They are aware of your needs and the application’s needs for the business. You have an idea, and we will make it a reality.

Keep Up with the Latest Updates to Produce Elegant, Sleek iOS and Android Apps

To maintain the App in line with user needs and Apple upgrades, our iOS developers stay current on the most recent Apple guidelines. The most recent upgrades made by the Android community to keep the program cutting-edge are well-known to our Android developers.



How much does it cost to design a mobile app?

The cost of any mobile application depends on factors like which platform you choose. What is the complexity level? And many more such factors. Feel free to give us a call and book a free consultation with us to understand more about this process.


What is the development time to complete my application?

The development time totally depends on the level and type of application. If it is a simple hybrid application, you can expect it to be delivered within 6 months.


How can I be assured that my idea will be intact?

We respect customer privacy. Our developers sign an NDA to keep your information and ideas confidential and safe.Be assured from our end.


When considering mobile app development cost, which is cheaper in iOS Vs. Android?

iOS is effective when looking for security and safety, but when looking for security with various features, Android is a better option. It is hard to tell which is cheaper, iOS Vs. Android as it depends on the type of application as well. Native apps cost more than Hybrid or cross-platform apps. Consult with the developer to discuss the exact cost.
About Author

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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