How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?

Updated February 9, 2022

The world runs on technology today, and much of that technology takes the form of mobile apps. Mobile apps are incredibly important for those on the go and those who use their phone to make important decisions and financial transactions. The desktop has long been surpassed by the smartphone as the primary way many do business, and this trend doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

If you’re thinking about developing a mobile app of any kind, it’s important to know the costs behind the decision. There are quite a few elements that will go into your decision, including complexity, testing, and administration. Here’s a guide to understanding all of the costs inherent in developing a mobile app and deciding on whether or not the process is right for you.


The first and most important factor in determining the cost of your app is its complexity, especially the complexity of the features you’ll be offering. Beyond the basic functionality and purpose of your app, you’ll probably also include a number of other features that benefit the user, such as:

  • Activity tracking
  • Messages and chat
  • Back-end infrastructure
  • In-App purchases
  • Social media integration
  • Advanced data processing
  • Camera and microphone use

These are just a few of the features you can include to entice and impress customers, and each one will cost money. To mitigate the costs of features, many app developers put out the most basic version of their project possible and build features based on specific feedback. 

This is known as the minimum viable product, or MVP. Of course, your MVP will include your app’s designed functionality and help solve your customers’ problems, but it shouldn’t have any extra benefits. Your customers should let you know exactly what they need that’s not currently in your MVP, giving you a great roadmap.


Many first-time developers make the mistake of going in blind. That is, they don’t have a fully thought-out plan for their entire process, stopping early because of their excitement. Passion for your app is great, but if your plan doesn’t extend from the first day of building to the last, you’ll ultimately end up wasting time and money in the long run. 

To avoid this fate, you should build a prototype, one of the key factors in determining the cost of yoru app. Your prototype should have all of the functionality you want in the final product, as well as the visual and experiential details. Building this prototype and knowing exactly what you want from your final product will save wasted thought and frustration in the middle of the process, as the app becomes fully formed.


Not all apps are available to everyone. Many are iOS or Android exclusive. You’ll want to determine if you want your app running on one, the other, or both to help you determine the cost of your app. You can do this by determining your market and audience share, then developing the app in response to your research. 

Technology does exist that will make it easier to develop your app on both platforms; software like Flutter can help you save time and money when developing an app for both platforms. Either way, you should focus your efforts on the most recent operating system update and give customers an app that will work with the updated software they’re using.


Another one of the key factors to help you determine total app cost is design, many novices simply think of design as user interface, or UI. This is the visual presentation of the app and is what most think of when they define “design.” While user interface is important, app design stretches out to more areas. Design is everything included in the user experience. 

This means the entire design of the app from the bottom up, in addition to the navigation of the app and user-friendliness. A great app design means an app that’s easy for people to use and navigate, that works seamlessly on a variety of platforms. You’ll have to focus in on user experience during the early phases of your app’s design. You’ll need to develop a prototype and test it before you can determine the visual layout of your app.

Cloud Considerations

Many apps today allow users to make videos or voice recordings that are then stored on the app. This is a great idea and helpful to many customers, but it also requires server costs. If your app needs any sort of cloud storage, this will have to be calculated into the final cost of your app. 

There are many different server types you can implement, including slow or quicker data storage capabilities. The type of server you choose to purchase should largely be determined by the type of app you’re making and how important data is to your customers. If you know there will be a plethora of data coming from the app and into the servers, then this is not an area to cut corners on.

Administration and Team Costs

Another area rarely thought of but critically important are content management systems or customer relationship management systems. These are key factors for determining cost. These systems ensure that your customers are taken care of in a more automated and integrated way. They also cost a fair deal of money; many companies choose to use a third-party solution for these systems because they’re cheaper and often more experienced than their own. 

However, not every third party will work well with your app, and it’s not unheard of to develop these solutions from scratch. Obviously, you’ll also have to pay your development team, which will include a project manager, user experience designer, tester, and a number of developers. The more complex your project, the more people you’ll have to pay. This is the most intrinsic and unavoidable cost of building an app.

Security Concerns

Protecting the data of your app, company, and users is critically important today. There are many outside threats who try to steal data for monetary gain, but you must be prepared for these threats. A great security apparatus around your app will deter cyberattacks and ensure your customers, and you, are thoroughly protected. 

The number one target in cyberattacks now is data; data is mined or outright lifted from the app and your servers in order to gain sensitive information about how your business operates or how your customers live. There are a few pieces of software available online that can help you protect your app, with varying costs and degrees of safety. Good research should be done to know which software is right for you and your customers’ protection.


This is another area where cutting corners is heavily frowned upon. You’re near the end-game when you reach the testing phase, and trying to save pennies at this point is completely counterproductive. During the testing phase, you’ll have an opportunity to improve your app through careful feedback and thorough bug inspection. 

The more complex the app you’ve created, the more important the testing phase becomes. Developers are highly skilled and careful with their work, but they’re still human, and code is finnicky even in the best of times. 

Testing your app over and over again, looking for bugs anywhere you can, will save you a lot of headaches and heartache after the app is released. Companies typically don’t want general users to find the flaws in the app before the app developers can.

Support and Publishing

These are generally the last steps you’ll take on your journey to create the perfect app. Apps must be updated semi-frequently and you’ll have to find a publishing agent that will release your app for you. Both of these steps will cost money, though the costs shouldn’t be prohibitive, especially compared to the other steps on this list. 

You’ll want to offer continuous, frequent, and uninterrupted support for your app so that your users know they can trust the quality of what you’ve made. Be prepared to spend a nice chunk of change on this maintenance, keeping some money in a fund to allocate to the ongoing development of the app at all times.