Cost to develop and maintain a mobile app

Appinventiv Technologies December 23, 2021
Mobile App Development Cost

The combination of High Quality and Low Development Cost is what every business looking to expand in the mobile domain hopes to achieve. A combination that is more possible to achieve in Eastern Countries like India, with their $25 – $80/hour Range as compared to the Western Nations that charge somewhere in the range of $100 – $350/hour. Now whether your app will be developed at the rate of $25 per hour or $350 per hour, depends on a lot of factors.

How is App Development Cost Estimated- The Formula

The formula or the answer to how much does it cost to create an app lies in calculating the number of hours it would take for every single one of the development process and multiplying it to the billable hours of resources.

Factors That Measure Up As the Cost to Build an App

01. App Discovery

Before the team starts preparing for the months-long process of mobile app development and much before the rough estimate is shared with the clients, the app idea is validated. There are a number of different methods that app development companies apply to validate the idea they are shared with, such as looking at competitors, analyzing the user persona, and even checking the marketing capitalization.

At Appinventiv, when we are the stage of App Idea Validation, we follow the process of Design Sprint to validate an idea. After the end of 5 day Design Sprint, once we have gauged the level of interest, we start with the next process – looking into what the app idea’s market is.

Market Research

We do a handful of things at this stage. From looking for the devices that
the app’s user work on to analyzing the features they love to use and leave in the apps
falling in the same category as our client’s. A major portion of our Market Research
process is made of Competitor Analysis as well.

User Personas

A lot of factors – App Size, App UI/UX, Features, etc – varies from one user
demographics to other, which gives its study an important place in the mobile app
development cost breakdown structure. That is what we analyze and draft in User Persona.

Market Capitalization

Just like in the business world the worth of a company is calculated by its
market cap, the same is done with the app idea too. Information is gathered related to how much the idea is worth in terms of users it would attract, the revenue it would generate, and even the fundings that it would get. The aim of App Discovery stage is to
first validate an app idea and then create a rough idea of the set of features it would
have to make it different from the competitor’s.

The approximate amount of time it takes to complete App Discovery is between 40 – 80 hours.

02. Analysis & Scoping

This is where the document of what the app would do, the features it would have to fulfill its purpose, and technology it would have is prepared.

App Complexity

The definition of app complexity lies in the number of features that it includes. There can be over 100 different cost impacting features but they can all be clubbed into 5 groups-

Deployment Architecture Model

Through Backend, businesses take in user information from the app,
transform the information into solution and then return it to the user. When it
comes to Backend development, there are two options -Custom or BaaS. In Custom,
clients get their own architecture while in BaaS, they get a readymade backend

Admin Panel Development

It is that part of the app which is used to manage the app – keep
track of the activity, view stats, and update the content without the need of
involving developers.

Third Party Integration

More often than not, your app needs to interact with other app’s
functionality to ease its processes. Such as your app can use Facebook login or
PayPal payment to make user process easier.

In-App Purchase

Since a good percent of the apps in the industry today have the functionality of in-app purchases in one form or the other, the in-app purchase has found a great demand for itself.

Use of Device’s Hardware

The modern day range of smartphones and tablets come packed with a
number of features such as Bluetooth, GPS, Nearby, Barometers, etc. which when
linked and run with the apps tend to power up the apps as well.

Now, talking of app complexity, the more of these features an app use
the more the mobile app development cost would be. And depending on the App
Complexity, this is what the cost breakdown structure looks like –

Simple Apps – the ones that come with basic features, require standard UI components, and
a very simple backend mostly a pre-defined template with basic analytic features.

Development of a simple app takes up to 600 – 900 hours.

Mid Level Apps – Integration with API, custom UI, real-time messaging, and a simple
backend structure is what defines a Mid Complexity App.

Development of a middle complexity takes somewhere around 900 – 1600

Complex Apps – These use very high functionalities – custom animation, media processing,
real-time sync, complex backend with a different type of database relationships, etc
define Complex Apps.

Development of complex apps takes more than 1600 hours.

App Category

The Answer to How much Does it Cost to Make an App varies greatly from
category to category. When we move from one category to another, a lot of things change
like number of users, functionalities, security criteria, etc. which ultimately leads to
varying cost to develop an app.

Stand Alone Apps – These apps don’t need a network to run, nor are they dependent on any
device feature. Such apps are marked by low data and development cost: a win-win for
both – the users and the business. Example- Clock, Calendar.

A minimalistic features independent apps cost somewhere around 600
– 900 hours

Social Networking Apps – What was started by Facebook is only carried
further by a number of other brands.

The common features of a social networking app include – integration with other app and
device functionality like media files and camera, real-time messaging, use of
location-based service, real-time sync, and the latest trend of in-app purchases.

Because it has to serve millions of users at the same time, in a secure environment, and
in a real-time ecosystem, the cost to build an app in the social media platform category
tends to be high.

Social Networking Apps like Tinder or WhatsApp cost somewhere
around 1800 – 2500 hours

On – Demand Apps – When businesses develop an on-demand app, they develop an
app that caters to three people – the user, the person delivering the service, and the
business. And, the UI and app flow is entirely different in all of them, which adds on
to the development cost to a great extent.

Along with that, the category calls for a number of features included like in-app payment, real-time sync, real-time tracking, chat support, rate and review support, and notifications, among others.

Since through an on-demand app, a mobile app development company is developing three
apps, its cost also rises to a huge extent

On-Demand Apps like UberEats or Lyft cost somewhere around 2000 and
above hours

Enterprise Mobile Apps – Enterprise Mobile Apps, unlike other app
categories, need to be more precise. As the apps are to be used by employees as a
supporting element to smooth their process and because the app should be developed in a
way that it grows as the business grows, the development efforts are much higher in
enterprise apps.

Enterprise Mobile Apps cost somewhere around $50,000 to $1,75,000.

Focus On Hardware

IoT apps mostly require very low-level interactions with the firmware for
controlling the hardware. They do, however, need collaboration with the hardware itself
to enable users to seamlessly pull data and send commands and get an action in return.

Lastly, because they require special ROMs or exact device requirements for they are computationally intensive, they cost a portion extra than the on-demand apps.

An app that is highly dependent on a hardware, like an IoT app, costs
somewhere around $30,000 – $ 40,000

03. App Design & Animation

The next factor that adds on to the answer to How much does it cost to make an app is App Design. Ensuring that your users invest their time in your app, calls for a specific focus on App Design. When deciding on the App Design, we generally have two options – Custom and Standard UI. Customized UI are much difficult to design and implement than the Standard UI, which makes it more expensive.


The user experience map and features are structured through Wireframing,
which we draft using tools such as Balsamiq, Photoshop, and MARVEL. Every wireframe is
approved by the client to create a final app screen flow.

In case the client has a wireframe ready, the cost of developing one is not included.

UI Design

For all the Android Apps that we develop here at Appinventiv, we use Material Design to introduce the essence of creativity and simplistic boldness in our Mobile App Designs.

As for the iOS App Development, we make use of the clarity and depth that comes with Flat


Animation holds a prominent part in some apps like gaming or social media
apps like Snapchat. The design and coding of animation are counted in a complicated
process, which increases the app design cost.

The app design cost varies depending on the above factor. It could be a simple one and cost somewhere 150 hours or it could be a complex one and cost 400 hours.

04. App Platform

App Platform and the number of OS Versions your app will have is the direct answer to How much does it cost to create an app

Native Apps (Android & iOS)

While there is hardly any cost difference between Android and iOS apps, Android App Cost tend to get higher when a number of devices with different OS versions are involved, something that is hardly ever an issue in iOS. Language-wise, iOS
app development happens on Swift and Objective C, while Android App Development is done
on Java and/or Kotlin.

Web App

Apps like Progressive Web Apps and other forms of Web Apps are much
cost-efficient as compared to native apps. In terms of cost of development,

Web App Development Cost amounts to somewhere in the range of $15,000 to
$ 30,000.

Cross Platform App Development

Getting an app developed for both iOS and Android simultaneously is the new
cost-efficient trend. The platform comes with a series of benefits like single code use
and less development effort. The cross-platform industry is presently divided between
Flutter and React Native platforms.


A new entrant in the market, Flutter comes with its own series of advantages
in terms of complete Native experience, the support of detailed documentation, and the
app running time of 60 FPS. But, since the platform is fairly new and the availability
of Dart programmers is still fairly less, the cost of Flutter App Development is on the
higher side.

Flutter app development cost ranges to somewhere around $15,000 to

React Native

React Native over time has become synonymous with Cross-Platform App
Development. There are a number of brands that have adopted the Framework for making a
presence on both Android and iOS simultaneously. When compared to Native App Development
and Flutter app development, React Native App Development is much more cost effective.

React Native App Development Cost Ranges to somewhere around $15,000 to

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid Apps are a blend of both Native and Web App. While it is installed
like a Native app but it runs in a webview component.

There are three frameworks that are widely used for Hybrid App Development – PhoneGap,
Ionic, and Sencha Touch. However, over time Hybrid Apps have lost their position to
Cross-Platform Native App Development which is offered by React Native and Flutter.

But, there are still brands that wish to get Hybrid apps developed, because of the
costing which is somewhere around exact half of the Native Apps.

Blockchain Apps

Apps based on Blockchain are the biggest trends surrounding industries,
globally. The technicalities and lack of Blockchain Development experts are the two
reasons that add on to the total app development hours and thus the development cost

Talking of Blockchain App Development Platforms, there are two types of Platforms –
Permissioned and Public. While there is a very minimal cost difference between both, Permissioned Blockchain costs a little higher than the Public counterpart, purely because it takes into consideration an advanced level of security.

Blockchain App Development Cost Ranges somewhere around $30,000 to $1,80,000.

05. App Deployment

An app that is ideated and developed with many efforts needs to adhere to the specific
guidelines of both the App Store and Play Store. There are a number of instances when an app
gets rejected and is unable to go to the approval stage because of unfulfillment of A, B, C
criteria, what we do is we measure your app against the guidelines checklist that we have incorporated at every stage of the mobile application development process.

When Submitting an Android App on Play Store, you will have to pay a one-time
fee of $25. Apple, on the other hand, charges $99 per year.

06. App Maintenance

Undeniably, expenses do not come to an end at the last stage of the mobile application development process. Businesses will have to continue changing their apps to keep up with the varying market trends and new device & OS versions, which comes with a cost.

App Update

The user experience map and features are structured through Wireframing,
which we draft using tools such as Balsamiq, Photoshop, and MARVEL. Every wireframe is
approved by the client to create a final app screen flow.

In case the client has a wireframe ready, the cost of developing one is not included.

App Bug Fixes

There is no such thing as a bug-free mobile app. In most cases, there are
bugs that are only highlighted once the app is published. You will have to keep a
lookout for those bug fixes.

Design Changes

App designs are the one element of a mobile app that tends to get old and
stop enticing users. It is very important for a brand to not let their app design get
outdated if they wish to keep their users hooked.

App Maintenance Cost is calculated yearly at the valuation of 20% of the
whole app development cost.

07. Code Reuse

It’s one of the factors that bring the app development cost slashing down. When
businesses decide to reuse the code of an existing app in their own app and just change the
branding elements, the app development cost becomes much less.

However, at Appinventiv, we advise businesses to reuse only the common elements like Contact Us, Login, etc. and develop the rest from scratch, otherwise, it would become impossible to maintain a separate brand identity.

The cost of app development when the existing codes are used is 20 – 30% less than the cost of an app that is coded from scratch.

08. Team

Depending on who is developing your mobile application – Freelancer or a
large-cap app development agency, the cost to make an app would vary.

A freelancer or a company of 5 to 10 people team which is just starting will charge less to
help create their work portfolio, while the large-cap companies which have thousands of
employee to take care of, will be focusing on clients who are ready to pay hefty amounts in
name of mobile application development and deployment.

There is a considerable amount of cost difference that comes up because of the varying team
size. While Freelancers and Small Shop Companies are made of a developer and a tester, while
the rest is outsourced, Mid and Large Cap companies like ours are made of a development team
that looks like this –

Sudeep Srivastava
Sudeep Srivastava
CEO, Appinventiv
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