Cost of App Development

The price of an app depends on many different variables. For example, the time frame, complexity and even framework/language used. There is also additional costs for APIs and back end. Let’s examine the different costs and how to estimate your app development budget.

  • Developer’s hourly rate: Depending on the developer you choose the rate can be as low as $20/hr for developers typically found off-shore to as high as $300/hr for highly specialized senior developers. (Think ex-google employees vs. a university student in Eastern Europe).
  • Type of App: Typically a simple app will have a minimum of 40 hours such as “to do list app”. And if you are building a MVP (minimal visible product) you are looking at 80 hours to start for a basic version of a more complex idea. Game tend to take longer hours and may require expertise utilizing special frameworks. While, financial apps can be more pricey if you are trying to connect to special APIs (details follow). Finally, apps with special application can be built faster when utilizing existing APIs and packages or can be custom built which would increase the time it takes to build the app.
  • Time-Frame: Depending on mobile development agency or freelancer usually there is a range of project currently in the pipeline, therefore if you are looking for a rush request prepare to spend 20-30% more, unless you catch them in between projects.
  • Framework/language: the hourly rate of a developer can differ significantly depending on the language you choose to write your app in for example for games typically you would use a Unity developer vs. iOS app which is typically written in Swift, Objective-C or Flutter. Another difference is if you are going to high a cross platform code vs. native. For example, Flutter freelancers can get the app on the App store (Apple) and Play Store (Google) at the same time without having the run the code twice. This will in turn save you time and money, but the hourly rate maybe more expensive as there are less developers in the market place.
  • Back End Development and Cost: Depending on our app, you may require to store large amounts of data on a server such as AWS. Complex backends add a lot of cost to both development and maintenance.
  • API Connections: One thing that is usually the first unknowns in terms of cost for developers is the API required for the project. If you are trying to connect to Google Places for example, it maybe free or relatively inexpensive when you have small data pulls, but as your users grow you maybe in for a big surprise as every request gets charged! APIs can get very costly when building financial apps for stock market for example. In order to be successful in building great investment apps you need to have access to the best real time stock market APIs, which can be very pricey.
  • Security: Adding security features can be simple, however, depending on your app you may require additional hours to be spent on building out a secure application. You can utilize APIs, which will save time but may increase costs or build it from scratch which will increase the app’s price.

These are just some of aspects of the app that can drive cost not just for app development but also for app maintenance. Therefore, it is best to consider all options from a short term perspective to long term. The best strategy that I have seen as a Flutter Freelancer, is that MVP usually is the cheapest option to test if your app will be successful in the marketplace.