Understanding App Development Cost in 2021
By Vinod Kalathiya    |     09 Feb 2021   |    Development Strategy    |    Views 43

How much does it cost to develop an application? It’s the most frequently asked question. So, let’s be honest.

Factors that influence app development cost.

  • UI/UX designs
  • Platforms
  • Back-end infrastructure & admin panel.
  • Type of development team you’re hiring.
  • Volume complexity of an app.
  • Features and functionality.

UI/UX designs

Even a professional cannot tell how much this or that application will cost at a glance. To estimate the price, the designer should do what’s called decomposition: a breakdown of the design to estimate the price of each logical step of its workflow.

Pro tip: Always invest in good UI&UX design because a user-friendly and beautiful app always wins.

  • The UI part is about creating the visual style of the app and preparing all the necessary pics and images in Photoshop or any other tool. That’s where most people think design begins and ends. But design is not just how it looks.
  • The UX part focuses on the app’s usability. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time but it takes a lot of effort.

In the table below, you can see how long each app design stage may take. Note that the more complex the application is, the more time it takes to design the UX part:

Design stages simple app Average app Complex app
Wire framing 14 (Hours) 56 (Hours) 140 (Hours)
UI (user interface) design 14 (Hours) 87 (Hours) 210 (Hours)
UX (user experience or interaction) design 7 (Hours) 28 (Hours) 200 (Hours)

Ui/UX designer’s hourly rates can range from $15 p/h - $215 p/h.


Different businesses will require different app setup in terms of platform you need to create an app for. Depending on the business model some companies might only needs a web app to start. While some companies might only needs to start with mobile application because that is their unique selling point. The more platform you need to handle the more cost will go up. If you’re planning to support with Android and IOS both then be ready for higher budget for the development because you will need a separate team for each of the platforms and app cost will be double. One way to reduce app cost to handle both Android and IOS would be to go with cross platform development with wireframes like react-native or flutter where you only need one team to work on it but get the benefit of having a two native application built.

Average cost for different platform of application development. For example:

Average cost to develop an iOS app – about $28k

Average cost to develop an Android app – about $23k

Average cost to develop a Windows Phone app – about $18k

Back-end infrastructure & admin panel

When it comes to building a mobile app, you’ll need backend system with API to provide data exchange between the app and database. The backend system is also the backbone of the whole system where all the algorithms and processes are executed in order to provide the right data for mobile app to work.

Besides the backend system, what a lot of non-technical founder of product manager missed out on is the admin panel where you can manage the app content and users. This is an essential dashboard for you to manage any content you need to display on the mobile app, create, delete, and update certain users. Track certain matrix that is an important to make decision and also to moderate any user-generated content you have on the app. How flexible and complex the back-end system you need will also have impact on costing of overall application development. The more complex it is, higher the cost will be.


Type of development team you’re hiring.

How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer?

Well, it does depend on following criteria.

Chosen Mobile Platform: Native, Cross-Platform or Hybrid

App Project Complexity

Location of the App Developer

Expertise and Experience

Type of App Development

There is a significant difference between being a freelancer or offshore development team or an agency like Sensussoft. For the context of this topic, let’s take a two-sided marketplace for an exp, a freelancer might charge somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000. The short development team charges $100,000 to $200,000. While a full-cycle development agency like us might be charging $200,000 to $350,000. Now you might be asking what the difference between all these options is. Why shouldn’t I go with a cheaper option that could potentially save me a big portion of the money? Well, here’s y. Risk – the higher the cost upfront means the lower the risk. Why do I say so? It might be your first time hiring a freelancer or perhaps you’re not a technical person and you don’t have anyone that understands software development to handle the project for you. How do you know the freelancer you hired is doing a good job, creating an app that you want and envision? Same goes for an offshore development team. The reason why a creative agency like sensussoft prices our services higher is because of proven app track record and experience when it comes to designing and building an app. I’m saying a development agency is the only way to go of course. You can still find a good and experienced freelancer and offshore development team. There are always pros and cons to all the options so make sure you do your due diligence before engaging an app developer.

Volume complexity of the app

  • Simple app development cost - $60,000 for one platform (e.g. Calculators, Camera)
  • Basic app price - from $60,000 to $120,000 per platform (e.g. McDonald’s Loyalty)
  • Complex, custom (multi-feature) app cost - starts from $230,000+ (e.g.Uber, Instagram)

Complexity matters when it comes to the cost of making an app. If your budget is limited, think about prioritizing features to fit within that price range.

Always remember native apps are better than cross-platform apps. It costs more but the overall result and performance are worth the cost.

Features and functionality

The core features that are widely used in many digital projects are as follows:


P2P chat can be developed in 50 - 65 hours. Group-chat is more complex to develop and may take around 80+ hours.


A basic search function can be completed in 12 -15+ hours. More complex search requests need more of an investment.

Push notifications

Alerts, SMS notifications, and warnings provide users with relevant and up-to-date information (e.g. messaging apps). The simplest text form of this feature can be developed in 12 - 15 hours.


In-app payments can be made with credit cards, services like PayPal, Apple or Google wallets, or even with cash. Technologies like Stripe and Braintree are mostly used to implement payment functionality and a minimum of 50 - 65 hours is necessary.

In-app purchases

Another variant to monetize your app with options like purchase of goods and services, pay for subscriptions, add features, remove ads, and so on. The average time to develop this functionality is around 20 - 30 hours.


The most basic form can be implemented in 2 - 5 hours.

More complex implementation features are as follows:


The ability to locate the user device and use of GPS can be implemented in approximately 32 - 48 hours.

Usually used in apps like Uber, dating apps, businesses, travel products, etc.

Integrations (Google Maps)

Can be integrated in iOS and Android apps to supplement geolocation features for navigation and routing; takes around 32- 40 hours.


Integration of promotional and marketing material inside an app depends on the type (e.g. text, banner, and full-screen pop-up), the chosen library, service, and APIs. Approximately 8- 16 hours are typically spent on simple banner placement.

Offline mode

The amount of data and its storage (e.g. cookies, local storage, and database) influences the amount of time needed for development, which can be up to 80 hours.

Data encryption

This feature can be used to secure messaging with end-to-end encryption, where only the receiver has the necessary decoding protocol. To eliminate unauthorized access, a minimum of 16- 24 hours are needed and the process depends on the data being encrypted (text, image, video, etc.).

Video/audio streaming

This is rather hard to implement, but can be done in 56 - 72+ hours. This timeline is influenced by data transmission, processing, software logic, file formats, streaming protocols, server setup, and other settings.

Connectivity with a device

The app’s use of a device’s hardware, like NFC, Bluetooth, barometers, gyroscopes, accelerometers, etc. Around 16 - 24 hours are required to build this feature. There is no need to develop any back-end.

Note: Developers hourly rates will depend on skills and experience.

Remember: each and every project is unique, since no one has the same requirements, business context, technologies, and people involved.

Mobile App Development Cost based on following app Types,

1. the most basic app development cost

App Cost: > ~$15,000

Timeline: ~1 month

Examples: Calculator, Camera, Clock, Local games, SMS apps, Local audio/ video players

2. Data-driven app development cost

App Cost: ~$15,000+

Timeline: ~1-1.5 months

Examples: Calendar, Weather, Stocks, Maps

3. Authentication app development cost

App Cost: starting from ~$60,000+

Timeline: ~3-6 months

Examples: McDonald’s Loyalty App, Google Drive

4. Social networking app development cost

App Cost: ~$60,000 - $230,000+

Timeline: ~3-6 to up to 9+ months for ongoing project

Examples: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yummi.

5. E-Commerce app development cost

App Cost: ~$60,000 - $230,000+

Timeline: ~3-6 to up to 9+ months for ongoing project

Examples: Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, ASOS, GoPuff.

6. On-demand app development cost

App Cost: ~ from $70,000 - 80,000+ (per platform)

Timeline: ~5-7+ months

Examples: Uber, UberEats, Postmates, Nimber, Melabiz.

7. Marketplace app development cost

App Cost: ~$230,000+ (web platform)

Timeline: ~9+ months

Examples: Trip Advisor, Booking.com.

Tips: Do your homework before hiring an app development team. It does affect on cost.

Struggling with finding a professional team to work on your mobile application development niche? Get the advantage of working with a great team that has a deep and diverse knowledge of mobile application development. We can estimate your project roughly to give you a general idea of the potential cost of your app. Interested? Feel free to reach out to us [https://sensussoft.com/get-quote.php] with your niche ☺


Vinod Kalathiya

Vinod Kalathiya is an expert in digital concept strategies, a passionate blog writer and CEO at Sensussoft Software. He brings his experience and knowledge of the last decade in software development and outsourcing strategies to creative blogs, e-books and more.

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