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How much does it cost to develop an app in 2021?

jean pierre fumey



cost of app development

This is one of the very first questions that any brand asks whenever they start an app development project. What is the cost of getting an app developed? These types of questions help these brands to estimate their app development budget more efficiently.

Oftentimes, when these companies ask such questions, they have two alternatives in their mind.

  1. What will be the cost if we hire developers/designers to develop our app?
  2. What will be the cost if we seek out professional help from an established agency?

Deciding between these two choices often takes more time than developing the actual product. That’s why, in this guide, we will be focusing more on the second option. The costs of getting an app developed from a professional team of experienced developers.

Even though both approaches have their pros and cons, the agency option is a more sensible one because you’ll rely on an industry veteran that has years of experience. In addition to this, you set yourself free from the hustle and bustle of hiring and managing a team of in-house developers.

If you opt for creating an app in-house, even if you decrease the price initially, you’ll pay even more over time. Because going through a bug fixing process with an in-experienced team will cost you the same amount of money as an experienced team’s cost of a full-fledged app.

Talking of the cost of developing an app in 2021, many factors count. The complexity of the app, the functionalities that you wish to incorporate, and the region/type of the developing team all affect the cost of developing an app in 2021.

In this guide, we will try to answer your question, ‘how much does it cost to develop an app in 2021?’ We will learn about the factors that affect the cost and will also share some tips to decrease the cost.

How much does it cost to develop an app in 2021?

Let’s just start with numbers. Since app development is a huge paradigm, we have classified the costs based on different factors that affect the price of application development.

By complexity of the app

The first category of costs of developing an app in 2021 is based on the complexity of the app. Certain apps are complex in their structure. For example, Uber has two versions, one for captains and the other for users. It has a slightly complex structure. As compared to a music player, the structure of Uber is way more complex. This complexity will affect the cost. If you go out in the market and ask for quotes from development agencies to develop an app like Uber, you’ll get a much higher price than that for getting a music player app developed.

We have created three categories of complexities, simple apps, basic apps, and complex apps. All three of them will have a different cost based on their complexity. Here’s the schedule of estimated costs:

Complexity Estimated Cost Time
Simple App Development $40,000 to $60,000 2-3 months
Basic App Development $60,000 to $150,000 3-6 months
Complex App Development  $300,000 or more 9+ months

By type of the app

Another factor that affects the cost of app development is the type of that app. As you may know, there are many types of apps depending on the operating systems and platforms they’re created for. There are e-commerce apps, video-streaming apps, web/mobile apps, hybrid apps, and many other types. Here’s a comprehensive list that contains the information about different types of apps and their estimated costs and time:

App Type Estimate Cost Time
Mobile App $15,000-$300,000 1,200h
iPhone App $50,000-$300,000 1,200h
Android App $50,000-$300,000 1,200h
Web App $60,000-$300,000 1,200h
Startup App $32,000-$400,000 1,600h
Taxi App (Uber) $32,000-$400,000 1,600h
Game App $30,000-$250,000 1,600h
Retail App $50,000-$150,000 1,200h
Augmented Reality App (AR) $100,000-$250,000 1,600h
eCommerce App $30,000-$250,000 1,600h
Social Media App (Instagram) $24,000-$300,000 1,200h
Business App $50,000-$200,000 1,200h
Learning App (DuoLingo) $18,000-$225,000 900h
Video Streaming App $30,000-$300,000 1,600h
Restaurant App $20,000-$150,000 900h
Community App $18,000-$150,000 900h
Shopify App $20,000-$180,000 900h
Dating App $28,000-$350,000 1,400h,
Food Delivery App $20,000-$150,000 900h,
Hybrid App $40,000-$200,000 1,200h
Healthcare App $45,000-$300,000 1,200h
Typical App $40,000-$300,000 1,200h

By type of the team

After the type of app, the factor that can increase or decrease the cost of developing an app is the type of team you’re working with. The experience of the development team is directly related to their charges. An experienced team will charge more than an inexperienced one. Here’s the schedule of estimated charges for a ‘basic app’ based on the type of the development team along with the estimated time the project may take:

Type of team Estimated Cost
Beginner App Development team (0-3 years of experience) $60,000 to $80,000
Experienced App Development team (3-5 years of experience) $80,000 to $100,000
Expert App Development team (>7 years of experience)  $150,000 or more

By region of the team

The region of your development team also has a great impact on the cost of your app development. Teams from the United States charge way more than teams in Ukraine. We also have to understand their dynamics as well. The teams from these developed nations like the US and UK have a lot more expenses. We can crack a good deal if we lock in an expert team from a country like Ukraine, they will charge less and at the same time get the same quality. Developers from countries like India and Bangladesh charge even less, but that may drop the quality of your app. Remember, if the agency is charging unexpectedly low, there may be a risk of getting a low-quality app.

Anyways, here’s the schedule of hourly charges that teams in each of these regions normally charge:

Region Hourly rate, $
United States (USA) 120-150
United Kingdom (UK) 100-120
Australia 100-120
Western Europe 80-100
Eastern Europe 30-50
India 20-30

Factors, that impact the cost of app development

After we’ve discussed the different types of app costs that are the result of different factors, let’s dig deeper into these factors that affect the costs.

The complexity of business logic

The first factor that affects the cost of an app is the complexity of business logic. It refers to the complex structure of data input/output and manipulation.

If there is a lot of data and a lot of complex data queries need to run in an app on average, then the business logic of that app is said to be complex.

Whereas, if there are very few calculations, and few computing resources needed to run the app, the business logic is said to be easy.

Some applications that involve complex business logic require integrations from cloud service providers such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure, this refers to the features and functionalities and not to the business logic.

Remember, business logic sits at the heart of any commercial app. It’s all about data manipulation, reliability, and scalability while keeping a deep integration with third platforms. Therefore you need to have a solid system and a great API architecture that ensures bug-free and smooth operations that do not hinder any business process. It’s only possible with a carefully designed business logic. But, that may increase the cost of your app.

Complexity of design

Another factor that has an impact on the cost of app development is the complexity of the design.

It means the complexity of the overall structure of the app, and the number of actions an average user needs to take to use a single feature. In technical terms, it refers to the complexity of the UX system that you wish to get developed by the app development agency.

The more complex that design system is, the most costly the app will be.

The complexity of development solutions

The last factor on our list that has an impact on the cost of app development is the complexity of development solutions.

This refers to the number of platforms and technology stacks that are needed to get the app developed. If the app is to be developed for iOS, Android, and Web altogether, the complexity of development solutions will be higher.

Also, the inclusion of high-level infrastructure technologies such as cloud computing services (Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, etc) has a great impact on the cost of the app development.

In addition to this, if you want to design and develop your database, the complexity of your development solutions will be much higher.

How to save app development budget?

Everyone who wants to develop an app finds ways to save up on costs. After all, the costs have risen exponentially in the past several years and you need to be extra vigilant to save up costs.

Saving costs from the app development budget will help you channelize these resources to more important aspects of the business.

We’ve gathered some tips from experts who have been in this field for years. These tips will help you save more on your app development budget.

Do customer and market discoveries

The number one tip is to do customer and market discoveries. It means that you should discover insights about your market and customer.

Discovering more insights about your customers and the market you operate in will help you come up with innovative ideas that have more chances of success.

If you do not have enough knowledge of your customer and market segments, you’ll end up creating products that nobody wants.

When you do your market and consumer research, you get a chance to learn about the features that your customers need. It helps you craft a better and a reasonable structure of your app.

Once you know what features are needed, then you can budget accordingly. Some features can cost more time to be integrated into your app and hence costing more money.

Your customers and users will not be the only source of such information. The businesses that already operate in your niche will also provide you a good insight into what’s in demand. That’s why we have included market discovery with customer discovery.

Do discovery phase

Talking of customer and market discovery, you should not ignore the discovery phase.

While in customer and market discovery, you research what your customers need, in the discovery phase, you develop a plan of how your solution will penetrate the market.

Think of this as a stage for strategy development. At this stage, you develop your business strategy with thorough research and analysis of your solution.

The discovery phase starts with research. This research phase is somewhat similar to what you did in the customer and market discovery phase. You validate your app idea and see if it’s viable and likable by the customers or not.

The next stage after research is strategy development, or in some places, it’s called the workshop stage. It includes the study of the scope of the app and its features. In this stage, the first MVP is designed. Also, the features and scope of the app are carefully analyzed. You can also call this a feasibility study of the app development project.

During these two stages, a user-centric method called ‘user story mapping’ is used to come up with solutions and improvisations to the app. By clearly defining who your users are, and what are their requirements, user story mapping helps you get into the shoes of your users and then analyze the app to see if it fits your requirements.

Spending time on the discovery phase will help you devise a clear-cut vision of what you do and don’t need in your app. Ultimately, it will save you a ton of un necessary costs.

Launch an MVP and stick to an iterative approach

If you want to save up on your app development budget, you should go with an iterative approach.

What do we mean by this?

We mean that instead of spending a ton of resources to get the perfect app developed won’t be as effective as launching an MVP, then modifying it after user feedback.

Adopt a user-centric approach. Launch an MVP as soon as possible, then spend your energies on getting user feedback. It will help you arrive at a solution that your users love!

This way, you and the development team are not the drivers of the app development process. Users and customers drive your app development project ahead. The users’ feedback will help you decide which features to include and which to exclude. This iterative approach helps you cut costs and the need to develop unnecessary features for your app.

In addition to this, the app will be much more popular because the development process is user-centric and completely driven by user feedback. A good way to do this is to launch marketing along with development.

Sum Up

The cost of app development depends on the huge pool of different factors, including its own complexity and the competency of your app development partner.

For sure, there is no right answer on how much does it cost to develop an app. But as a founder, you should choose the option that is safest for you and invest as much as you would feel comfortable losing.

Because there is no guarantee that your app would change the world. But at least, you could try.

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Jean-Pierre is a polyglot communication specialist, freelance journalist, and writer for with over two decades of experience in media and public relations. He creates engaging content, manages communication campaigns, and attends conferences to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. He brings his wealth of experience and expertise to provide insightful analysis and engaging content for's audience.

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