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Guest Post: Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown


Do I have to sell my house to develop a super-useful flashlight app? Probably… Depends on whom you will contract and what do you also want that app to do, except switching on LED flash on the phone. That’s this article will help you. Here you’ll find brief answer to all your questions according app development cost.

Let’s get it straight. Question “How much does mobile app development cost” is a big one. And answer to it isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Although, every stage of app development requires its own article to be honest, we’ll try to cram all the necessary info into this article in a most convenient form possible. So you could get an idea of possible expenditures and pitfalls.

And now, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Whom to trust the project

The answer here might seem obvious. If you have a small project with a tight budget you hire few freelancers. You’re backed by proper funding and even bigger ambitions – go on and contract some agency. But, let’s have a look at some charts.

cost of app devt

This chart shows average freelancer reward in various regions around the globe.

app devt cost

This one shows the same, but for staff developers in companies.

The part which interests us the most, is the dispersion of payrolls around the world. Only lower range freelancer’s payroll is pretty much similar everywhere. The rest differs drastically from region to region. Especially with staff dev’s salary. Which means, that for the payment of one developer in the US you can hire 3 or even 4 developers from Eastern Europe or India. Moreover, those are staff developers.

It is far better to work with an agency, as you’ll receive whole spectrum of services in one package. Where alongside with a developer you’ll be provided with services of a PM, designer and QA engineer. And all those people will work together in one team. While with freelancers, in most cases, hiring and controlling all that crowd is completely up to you.

To conclude, we’d recommend going with services of freelancers or dev companies from regions with lower payroll rate. If you’re on a tight budget, of course. On the contrary, if you’re not limited in finances, it is much better to play safe and hire a dev-team from well-established agency or professional freelancer. Thus you can be sure about project quality and timeframes in this case.

Project kickoff

Here is the formula for estimation of literally any project: development time x $/hour rate = price. Yes, it’s the common formula for a whole industry. Therefore we’ll use it here, as well.

Also we will use a base rate of $40/hour.

Any decent app development project should have these at its very beginning:

  • Project plan – 10-20 hours for project planning, whether you do it on your own or not
  • Documentation – about 30 hours, and it’s better to trust this job to a tech-writer
  • Mockups – 40 hours and more, just leave it to some designers
  • Market research – 20 hours or so, depending on a project niche and its unicallity

Hence, that all is more than doable on your own, it is much better to ask professionals for a help. In order to avoid minor flaws, which afterwards may and will turn in big troubles during sprint. 

Something about 100 hours is what we have in the end here. Which is $0-$4.000.


This is facade of your app. No matter how cool its features are and how practical it is, you nearly have no chances winning your customers attention on this oversaturated market. Therefore, more than responsible approach is required towards this question. And what can be more responsible as hiring a professionals?

Design stage of app development process consists of:

  • Wireframes – 5-10 app screens, near 40 hours
  • UI – icons, images, layers, etc. at least 50 hours
  • UX – navigation logic, screen layouts and architecture, near 25 hours

All of that combined gives you nearly finished app. Actually, its shell.

115 hours on average, we get according our calculations. That is $4.600.

Features implementation

The biggest and the most time-consuming part. It all depends on the number of features you want and complexity of those. Here is the list of the most common features among modern apps:

  • Loginization – custom – 30 hours, through social networks – 20 hours.
  • Locations – implementation of Google APIs – 60 hours. On iOS it’ll take near 40 hours.
  • Social functionality – plain sharing functionality will take at least 15 hours. Video streaming – 200+ hours.
  • Video/Photo – photo/video capturing – maximum 30 hours. Editing functionality – up to 80 hours, as all that’s necessary is to implement required libraries.
  • Payments – Stripe integration will take at least 40 hours. While PayPal – only 20
  • Multi-device synchronization – the more platform you integrate the more time is necessary. Google sync is the easiest and might take near 80 hours.

Sure thing, this list isn’t complete at all and not all features from it are necessary. You decide on your own what you need and what not. However, loginization, payments, social networks integration and location data collecting are like a gentlemen’s pack for a successful app nowadays. If you’re not building another “helloworld” app.

So, here we have near 200 hours at least for a decent pack of features. Which is $8.000.


Control, that’s what it is all about. Not only you have to conveniently control what’s going on in your app, but also keep up with what your users are doing in it and what do they might require. These will help you with it.

  • Analytics implementation – in-app analytics data collecting system – near 60 hours
  • CMS or web portal – decent webpage on CMS will take at least 250 hours to build.

Done right, analytics data will give you the key towards increasing the number of users drastically. While CMS is your path towards even bigger user engagement.

Simplest webpage on CMS alone will cost you near $4.000, and analytics tools – $2.500.


Usually, 20-30% of total development time goes on testing. That’s near 100 hours. So, you might spend on testing near $4.000.

But if you have contracted an agency it might cost you nothing at all.


After doing an unimaginable amount of calculations, we’ve found out that an average app might cost you near $25.000. But, those calculations are more than rough. And there are lots of other issues to consider.

Luckily there are app cost calculators, which will help you with more precise calculations.


Author info

Alex Volski: I’m Copywriter/analyst at Thinkmobiles IT company. 5 years of experience in web and app researches. I have even done my own flashlight app once =). But I won’t stop, and I’ll become mobile app developer one day. So, it would be a pleasure for me to speak with you about it. Contact me if you have something interesting to say or ask =)

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