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Estimating the cost of new mobile application development

Estimating the cost of new mobile application development

Wednesday December 13, 2017,

6 min Read


Mobile application development cost depends upon various factors, based on the level of intricacy and complexity of the app’s functions and the platform on which it is being launched. Most mobile app development companies offer package deals that charge you by the hours invested in development. Some companies give a cost estimate based upon features and development platform. The elements that go in to determining total app development costs include –

-  Project time

-  Development team

-  Cost of app elements

-  Post-release expenses

The market for mobile application development is vast and you can take your pick from independent developers, small medium or large scale companies and even from different countries. The decision to hire a developer is based upon the points mentioned above and the business relevance.

The main cost influencing elements

Important aspects such as complexity of the product, level of experience of the developers, amount of post-development support among other things come into play while determining the product development cost

Based on the project requirements, you can recruit a basic team or an extended one. The basic team should have the standard UI/UX designer, two programmers and a quality assurance engineer. If there are backend infrastructure development requirements for the application to develop an API, a backend developer should also be part of this team. The extended team will have a senior designer for the admin panel, around four developers for iOS and Android platforms in addition to the team mentioned for the basic app team.

Complexity in app refers to technical specs, number of operating systems and types of devices and design and animation customization will determine whether a basic team or advanced team must be hired.

The technical elements broken down

There are some standard features that every app has, and some that are relevant to the app theme. These features together culminate to determine the technical complexity of the project. Some of the technical elements that are standard include –

Third-party integration

These include integrating third party elements such as libraries, services and frameworks. Services include social media sharing capabilities with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram among others, geo-location tagging, etc. Even the in-app purchase feature creates technical complexity, especially with integrating third party payment gateways.

Admin Panel Development

Admin panel is a tool that enables operation of apps, manage users and content, view statistics and much more. These are generally customized to match business needs and hence require nuanced development.

Backend Development

This mainly comprises of creating an operating system that will provide APIs for exchanging data between the application and a database. In such scenarios, the backend implements the app’s business logic.

Using the device’s hardware components

Features such as clicking photos or shooting videos from the app, location sharing, bar code scanner etc. all use device hardware components such as NFC, Bluetooth, Camera, GPS, gyroscopes, barometers etc. these components vary between different types of device and manufacturers. Hence, it is imperative to adopt the right technique and testing to ensure the different hardware components communicate with the software uniformly.

Devices and platforms

You can opt for ionic development wherea single app is designed for all platforms and finer aspects are adapted as per platform requirement.However, these cannot be complex applications that need in-depth development. The mobile operating system is captured by two major platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Both these platforms are updated regularly and it is just as important that the application functions seamlessly on older versions of the platform as many users will still be using older devices. In fact, the percentage of people who adopt the latest version of the operating system, even by updating their device platform, is much smaller than those who are using an older version of the platform. Likewise, it is essential to update the application with every new platform update.

In the case of iOS apps, besides the version compatibility, it is important to maintain device compatibility too. In case of Android, the factors that influence the app design are –

-  Market share of each Android device manufacturer

-   Presence of the device in specific markets

-   Client preference

-   Android operating system version

The number of devices will determine the variety of screen sizes, resolutions, hardware and testing. It will be more cost-effective to develop only for the best-selling Android devices. This is one of the reasons why it is cheaper to create an iOS app.


The user interface and user experience reflects brand identity and it is has to be homogenised with device experience too. There are standard UI design components that are cost effective, but adding custom animations will increase the cost. Often, app development companies have stock animations which are more cost efficient than designing a new animation.

On-going maintenance and support

Once the app proto-type has been tested and it is released in the market, the next challenge is to make its presence felt in the marketplace. This includes app promotion, app analytics and much more. Other post-release support include app maintenance, updates, customer support, backend server maintenance, cloud hosting etc. Post-release costs are not part of the development cost and are offered in the form of separate packages as an additional service.

The global price game

Every app development company advertises itself as being the “leading company” that has the “best app developers” from around the world. So, how does one choose? It is best to pick developers who have expertise in the industry that your application is targeting since they are familiar with the market.

How much a company will charge will not determine the success or failure of the application. Many first time developers have created highly successful applications. Also, geography plays a big role in influencing prices. On an average, a US or Canada-based company will charge $50 to $250 and Australian, West European or UK-based company will charge $50 to $170. Eastern European and Indian companies will charge around $10 to $180.

So, how much will a Mobile app development really cost?

A simple mobile app can take up to 600 hours to design, develop, test and launch. The cost of this will start from $20,000. An app with mid-level complexity will take between 600 and 800 hours to be ready and its starting price will be around $35,000. For a highly complex application, it will take over 800 hours development time and will cost over $60,000. These are approximate figures), and hence the final price) of a complete SDLC for app development will be determined after requirement analysis and will include design, development, testing and verification. This process will go on till the final product is approved