How Much It Costs to Make an App (Cost Breakdown)

There’s a huge difference between a $30.000 and a $200,000 budget for a mobile application. However, both numbers can be an accurate answer to the question “How much does it cost to create an app in 2024”

The thing is, there are countless factors that can affect mobile app development costs. Do you want to build an app for both iOS and Android? What country is the development team you want to hire from? What type of app do you want to build? Depending on the answers to these questions, the cost of your project will significantly vary.

Since the company was established in 2013, Mind Studios’ team has created over 50 mobile apps. In this article, we speak from experience, dig into the most influential factors contributing to mobile app costs and provide you with real app cost examples.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to roughly calculate the cost to build your mobile app. And for a more precise estimate, feel free to get in touch with our managers.

Mobile App Development Cost examples

As is evident from everything above, there are so many factors that influence the development process that it’s difficult to come up with the price to create an app on the spot. At Mind Studios, we write articles where we share our inside look into the development of different types of apps, and that includes cost estimates.

Here are several examples that demonstrate the costs of creating an app for both iOS and Android, which we’ve estimated in 2023. The estimates are based on an average Eastern European rate of $45/hour:

How much does it cost to make an app you have in mind, and what are the ways to find that out? If you have a clear idea of what you want to create, you can either ask an app development company for a rough estimate (that’s what our contact page is for) or you can use an online app cost calculator.

Online cost calculators are simple web apps. They let you choose among a number of parameters and features and, based on that information, they automatically calculate a rough estimate according to the rates set by the calculator. However, when you use one, do keep in mind that most of these calculators estimate the cost very, very roughly. Most are intended to get your email address and entice you to reach out to the development company.

Cost for app development by stages

The whole app development process can be divided into four main stages. Let’s take a look at how much each of them might cost and what percentage of the overall process they make up for. Keep in mind that the calculations below are based on the hourly rate of $45 and are applicable to medium-complexity projects, such as an on-demand delivery app or a fitness app.

  1. Discovery stage, during which the team analyzes the market and the target audience, calculates the risks, and comes up with the solutions that can make the app a success.
    Approximate time and cost: 80 hours, $3,600
  2. UI/UX design stage, during which the team of UI/UX designers determines the features for the app and develops its visual concept. The results of this stage are presented in the form of prototypes — visual mockups of each screen of the app.
    Approximate time and cost: 160 hours, $7,200
  3. Development stage, during which the team of developers transforms the prototypes into a full-functioning mobile application. The estimate below includes iOS, Android, and backend development.
    Approximate time and cost: 2080 hours, $93,600
  4. Testing, during which QA engineers try out the app and look for bugs to report to the development team so that those can get fixed.
    Approximate time and cost: 200 hours, $9,000

One more important component of the overall development cost is the project management part. It’s not actually a stage per se, but rather a tool that helps the client and the team stay on the same page throughout the entire cooperation. On average, this service requires 200 hours and costs $9000 for a medium-complexity project.

Below, you can see a diagram that demonstrates the share of each stage in the medium-complexity app development process.

The breakdown of app development cost

Cost of development by mobile app type

So, how much does it cost to develop an app? To answer this question, the development team needs to know what type of application you want to build. Obviously, there’s no one-fits-all solution, but each type of mobile app has an established set of features that will help the team make a quick rough estimate for the project. We’ve collected some of the most common app types in the table below. Keep in mind that the estimates are based on an hourly rate of $45.

Type of app Examples Timeline Average cost
Basic app with a minimum number of features Video player, calculator 1 month $16,000+
Data-driven app Weather 1 month $16,000+
Authentication app McDonald’s Loyalty App 3 months $45,000
Social networking app Instagram, Facebook 3 — 9+ months $45,000 – $198,000+
eCommerce app Etsy, eBay 6 months $129,600
Marketplace app Amazon, 6 – 9 months $124,000 – $194,000
On-demand app Uber, Postmates 8 – 12 months $130,500 – $200,000
eLearning app Duolingo, Udemy 4 – 6 months $86,400 – $124,000
Healthcare app Headspace 5 – 8 months $108,000+
IoT app Nest, Garmin Connect 4 – 6 months $86,400 – $124,000
Video Streaming App Netflix, Hulu 6 – 9 months $124,000 – $194,000

Obviously, these are just some of the most common types of mobile apps out there. If you have an idea for something entirely different and even innovative, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with our business development team. We’ll gladly hear your idea out and answer all of your questions.

Read also: How to Get Funding for Your Mobile App Startup

How much does it cost to develop an app?

The cost to develop a simple app is largely based on the number of features — but that’s not all.

The complexity of those features is sometimes more influential. Some features only use standard tools and APIs. Others require the integration of third-party APIs. A third type requires custom-built algorithms.

It’s an industry standard of sorts to divide mobile apps into three categories based on complexity:

  • Simple apps have minimum features, most of which are either fairly standard or pretty easy to build. Think of this kind of app as a minimum viable product (MVP), an app with the minimum features required to collect feedback and validate the app idea. Some finished apps are similarly simple. Building a simple app can take from 2 to 4 months, give or take, and the simple app development cost varies from $18,000 to $60,000.
  • Medium complexity mobile apps take about 6 months to build, sometimes up to 10 months. Medium complexity apps have more screens, more features, and more complex features than simple apps. If a simple app has a basic login feature, for instance, a medium complexity app would have integration for social login via Facebook. That’s a basic example, so you get the idea. The cost to make an app of medium complexity will most likely start at $50,000 and can go up to about $130,000.
  • Complex apps are the apps with the most sophisticated features, like augmented and virtual reality, bots, payment integration, NFC (near-field communication), and media streaming. Depending on the number of such complex features, development can take from 7 months to more than a year. The average cost to create an app with complex features begins at $130,000 and can go up to $500,000 or even more.

What factors into the cost of app development?

Factors of app development cost

As with any complex app development process, there are a number of factors that can influence the final cost of your mobile app. The mobile app cost breakdown consists of many factors. Let's look at the major ones.

iOS and/or Android

There are two major operating systems for mobile devices: Android and iOS. They aren’t the only ones, but they dominate the mobile world, with Android holding 72.26% of market shares, and iOS 27.11% as of 2023.

When you start working on mobile app development cost estimation with a project manager, part of what you’ll research is the best platform to build for. What mobile devices are used most by your target audience? For instance, 55.26% of mobile users in the US use iOS, while in Poland it’s less than 10%. Therefore, to make the decision about the operating system, you have to study the market you’re targeting.

If your customers use both iOS and Android devices, you’ll have three options:

  1. Choose one platform for your first app and add support for the other later.
  2. Build two apps right away.
  3. Build either a cross-platform or hybrid app (more on those later).

If you’re choosing one platform to start with, the difference in cost will mostly depend on how long the development takes. Average iOS and Android app development costs are more or less similar — unless you decide to hire a US-based app dev team, in which case Android development rates are likely to be higher. In South America and India, iOS development costs a little bit more than Android.

Building an Android mobile app generally takes longer, one of the reasons being that your team will need to test on a wider range of devices.

App type: native, cross-platform, or hybrid

The type of app makes the biggest difference in estimating the cost. First, what are these types of apps?

Native mobile apps are created specifically for one mobile platform. For a regular user, it’s impossible to run an APK file (executable for Android) on an iPhone or an IPA (executable for iOS) on an Android device.

Android and iOS use different programming languages and frameworks: Java and Kotlin for Android, Swift and Objective-C for iOS. When your target audience uses both Android and iOS devices, and you decide to support both platforms with native apps, it means you’ll need to build two separate apps: one for Android and one for iOS.

Read also: Swift 3.0 vs Swift 4.0: What are the Main Differences Between Swift 3 and Swift 4

However, you do have options for building one app for both platforms (aside from a web app, or a responsive website):

  • Cross-platform app
  • Hybrid app

A cross-platform app can be written in C# with Xamarin or JavaScript with React Native, and hybrid apps use AngularJS and its Ionic framework. Any of these options will work on both Android and iOS devices.

Now, you might be thinking,

Why would I make apps for each platform when I can make one app for both?

Indeed, it’s faster and cheaper to build a hybrid app than a native app, let alone two. However, you should be aware of the drawbacks cross-platform and hybrid apps bring to the table. Here’s a short comparison:

Native apps Cross-platform apps Hybrid apps
  • Top performance
  • Smooth integration with device OS
  • Can access platform-specific features
  • High responsiveness
  • Great UX
  • Secure
  • Middling price between native and hybrid apps
  • One app for both platforms
  • Easier to update
  • Faster to market
  • Cheap to build
  • Easy to maintain
  • One app for both platforms
  • Faster to market
  • Can be costly to build
  • Take significant time to build
  • Limited flexibility
  • Can’t access most platform-specific features
  • Integration is laggy
  • Security issues
  • Low performance
  • Poor UX
  • Slow
  • Security issues
  • Limited access to device hardware
  • No support for platform-specific features

Despite all the drawbacks, there are still a number of popular cross-platform and hybrid apps, including Skype, Slack, and Instagram. The trick is deciding what kind of app your business needs. Maybe the cons won’t matter for your particular app. But maybe they will.

App Design Cost

Great visuals are the cornerstone of a good app, so it hardly comes as a surprise that design can influence the cost of building an app. Custom icons and design elements — screens, logos, buttons — will take time and cost a lot. And each screen in an app needs to be drawn separately. Making custom animations is a whole other challenge, but they’re often a winning feature.

That being said, great design doesn’t always mean complex visuals. Sometimes, simplicity is the best answer: Depending on what your app does, it might be possible to use standard OS-provided elements that don’t require much time and effort to compose.

Design is an especially important part of the price of mobile application development when it comes to games, of course.

Read more: Cost to design an app in 2022


features that influence app development cost

The cost of mobile app development is largely based on the number of features — but that’s not all.

The complexity of those features is sometimes more influential. Some features only use standard tools and APIs. Others require the integration of third-party APIs. A third type requires custom-built algorithms.

It’s an industry standard of sorts to divide mobile apps into three categories based on complexity:

  1. Simple apps have minimum features, most of which are either fairly standard or pretty easy to build. Think of this kind of app as a minimum viable product (MVP), an app with the minimum features required to collect feedback and validate the app idea. Some finished apps are similarly simple. Building a simple app can take from 2 to 4 months, give or take, and the simple app development cost varies from $18,000 to $60,000.
  2. Medium complexity mobile apps take about 6 months to build, sometimes up to 10 months. Medium complexity apps have more screens, more features, and more complex features than simple apps. If a simple app has a basic login feature, for instance, a medium complexity app would have integration for social login via Facebook. That’s a basic example, so you get the idea. The cost to make an app of medium complexity will most likely start at $50,000 and can go up to about $130,000.
  3. Complex apps are the apps with the most sophisticated features, like augmented and virtual reality, bots, payment integration, NFC (near-field communication), and media streaming. Depending on the number of such complex features, development can take from 7 months to more than a year. The average cost to create an app with complex features begins at $130,000 and can go up to $500,000 or even more.


How frontend and backend impact the cost of app development

The backend, or server-side, is the part of your app that’s invisible to your users but supports some of the more complex features, like syncing between devices and push notifications (though the latter can be handled by cloud integrations today). Servers run your databases, custom and third-party APIs, and more.

A backend isn’t mandatory, but if your app needs one, you’ll need to hire a separate developer for it — one who works with Ruby on Rails or Python, for example. And that developer will, of course, add to the cost of your app.

Developers’ work

When someone asks, How much does it cost to develop an app? the answer is usually calculated based on how much time is needed for analysts, developers, designers, and testers to complete all development stages. But developers’ work can actually be calculated in two ways:

  1. In hours, which is the traditional way of measuring the complexity of tasks. Developers estimate the time they’ll need to build each feature, add some margin for unexpected complications, then add up the time for all tasks and multiply it by the hourly rate. Easy.
  2. In story points, a system that’s being used increasingly in Agile development. The gist of the story points system is that instead of trying to predict how much time development of a particular feature will take, the feature (or story) is assigned a number of points for difficulty.

Story points are relative. The team decides on the smallest story (the simplest, with the fewest risks and least effort required) and assigns it 2 story points. Then all other stories are compared to it and are assigned points in comparison. Usually, stories start with 2 points. Not 1 since during development something is always added or removed and there might appear a story worth fewer points than the one previously thought to be the smallest.

Dive deeper: Agile story points vs hours: How to calculate for software development

Team size

app development team size

It’s hard to estimate the average cost for making an app without knowing the number of people involved. These are the people you’re paying to do the work, after all.

The simplest team for an app consists of the following specialists:

  • 1 project manager
  • 1-2 developers per platform (iOS, Android, web)
  • 1 backend developer (optional)
  • 1 UI/UX designer
  • 1 QA specialist

A single UI/UX designer is generally enough for both iOS and Android apps, but an additional web app might require a designer of its own. If you need a server side to your app, you’ll need a backend developer.

This team can be expanded for faster and more complex development, which will influence the cost of app development.

Outsourcing vs in-house team

In-house development means hiring a team of specialists who will sit in your office and work only on your project.

Outsourcing means hiring a separate company to do the development for you without the developers being within your arm’s reach, so to speak.

Both options have their pros and cons, but here we’ll primarily focus on their cost differences.

To cut a long story short, hosting a team of developers in your company is a way more expensive endeavor than outsourcing. Having an in-house team means you’ll be paying for:

  • Salaries (obviously)
  • Taxes
  • Extra office space and workplaces
  • Hardware and software
  • Developers’ tools
  • Social benefits and everything else you pay for your regular employees

Depending on where your office is located, these costs can differ greatly. It’s not possible to even state general numbers. Sometimes an in-house team is justified, especially if you have more than one mobile product and need to constantly update them. In other cases, outsourcing is a more sensible choice. And outsourcing can be calculated with at least some precision.

Read also: How to outsource mobile app development

The biggest part of the cost of outsourcing lies in the geographical location of the company you’re hiring. Here’s a list of parts of the world sorted by average hourly rates, from the most to the least expensive:

  1. North America (US and Canada) — $100-150 per hour (depending on the region)
  2. Australia — $110 per hour
  3. Western Europe (UK, Germany, Austria) — $90 per hour
  4. South America — $50 per hour
  5. Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria)— $40-50 per hour
  6. Asia (China, India, Philippines) — $30 per hour
  7. Africa (Egypt, Kenya, South Africa) — $30 per hour

Knowing these approximate rates, we can estimate the average mobile app development cost in different regions. To do so, we only need to go back a little and recall the average development time for all three types of apps:

  • Small app — 2 months minimum
  • Medium app — 6 months average
  • Complex app — 8 months to more than a year

With 40 working hours a week and 4 weeks in a month, we get this:

— 40 × 4 = 160 hours a month

So here’s the answer to the question “How much does an app cost in different regions?

average cost of app development worldwide

Total: What goes into the cost of mobile app development?

Let’s sum up with a mobile app development cost breakdown:

  1. App type (native, cross-platform, hybrid)
  2. Platform (iOS, Android)
  3. Design
  4. Features/complexity
  5. Developers’ pay (depends on the location/hourly rate and team size)

Hidden costs of mobile app development

Hidden costs of mobile app development

The cost of creating an app is not limited to the development process. Along the way, there might (and probably will) be additional expenses that you have to take into account. Here are the five most common hidden costs that you might not have thought of.

Maintenance and updates

The app launch is definitely a significant milestone, but it’s not the endgame. As long as the app is available on the app stores, you will have to take care of maintaining it, react to user feedback, and provide regular updates.

According to the Outsystems Survey, an app’s maintenance cost during the first year after launch costs owners approximately 50% of the mobile application development cost. The second year usually costs 25%, and each subsequent year will require 15-25%.

Maintenance and updating services typically include:

  • Code optimization
  • Server improvements
  • Bug fixing and application updates
  • New features and technologies
  • Support for new OS versions
  • App scalability

Infrastructural costs

These expenses are mainly connected to app hosting on servers. The main purpose here is to make sure your platform can handle traffic spikes after launch. The cost of these services will depend on your app’s scalability requirements.

Here is a list of infrastructural charges you might need to pay for:

  • Server
  • Data storage
  • Content delivery networks
  • Integrations
  • Development tools
  • Load balancers

Functional costs

Services from this section are aimed at supporting your app’s functionality. For instance, you might need to subscribe to a number of services and arrange third-party integrations. The cost for these services varies depending on how many of them you need. Such expenses often include:

  • Push notifications
  • SMS notifications
  • Social media integration
  • Geolocation
  • Payment gateways

App security level

While you can completely delegate the development process to the hired team, there are a few aspects we recommend getting acquainted with, security being one of them.

You can ask the development team about their security practices, and discuss the best options for firewall protection, secure transactions, and other matters of critical importance. Making the platform as secure as possible can affect the cost to build an app you have in mind, but it’s definitely worth the investment.

App patenting

This legal step will both protect your intellectual property rights and help you in case other app owners falsely accuse you of intellectual property theft. This needs to be done before the app launches on the market.

During the process of obtaining the patent, you will need to specify what the uniqueness of your app is, define the aspects of your app you want to claim ownership of, and provide a visual presentation of the app.

The cost will depend on the country you’re filing a patent application in, and the type of your mobile app. In the US, for instance, the cost might vary from $2,000 to $5,000 for a regular non-provisional patent.

Mobile app development cost statistics

Mobile app development cost statistics

As you probably have realized by now, when we mentioned there are countless factors that influence mobile app costs, we weren’t exaggerating. And it’s not just the app development choices that make a difference. Post-launch marketing and maintenance expenses, economic conditions in the countries that are the leading software services providers, and mobile app market evolution — all this affects the costs to launch a mobile app.

Here, we’ve made a list of statistics connected to app development costs and the mobile app market in general that you might not have heard of.

  • According to the Business of Apps, you need to put aside at least $10,000 to plan a go-to-market strategy for your app
  • The price for marketing can be calculated by determining the cost-per-install (CPI), which is the price the app marketer pays to engage one user. In 2021, the iOS CPI was $3.6 per app install, and the Android CPI was $1.22 per app install. Overall, app marketing can cost you up to 50% of the development cost during the first year after the launch.
  • The average cost to maintain software and, in particular, applications is roughly 15-20% of its original development cost
  • According to Outsystems Survey, over 80% of mobile apps take 3+ months to develop, and 40% of applications are developed in 6+ months
  • As stated in Market Research Future, the mobile app development market is expected to evolve at a compound annual growth rate of at least 23.80% for the next 8 years
  • A reported by Globe Newswire, the global mobile applications market is now valued at US$ 112.6 billion and is predicted to reach a worth of over US$ 307 billion by the end of 2031

Given the last two forecasts on the list, it seems that the global mobile app market will be evolving at a great pace for the next decade, meaning the mobile app development prices won’t be getting any lower. So, if you have been thinking about building a mobile platform of your own, now is the time to do that.

How to lower the app development cost

If looking at the prices above makes you a little anxious, here’s a list of seven things you can do to reduce the cost of mobile app development.

#1. Validate your idea and concept in advance

How can you reduce the cost to develop a mobile app? Start by making sure your idea is viable. In the world of software development, an early mistake means a cheap mistake. That’s why validating your app idea is the main way to reduce the cost of mobile app development.

There are a lot of app idea validation techniques, and all of them are aimed at thoroughly analyzing your target audience, market, and competitors. You can:

At Mind Studios, we allocate experienced project managers and business analysts to conduct an all-encompassing discovery stage. Their main role is to guide the whole team and select the right tech solutions for developers to implement based on the target audience.

“ I often see how clients looking for a development team pay attention primarily to the developers’ level of expertise. However, many tend to ignore such team members as project managers and business analysts [...] without proper business analysis, you might spend a fortune on a product that your audience doesn’t need in the first place.”

— Dmytro Dobrytskyi, the CEO and co-founder of Mind Studios

#2. Outsource mobile app development

Outsourcing mobile app development to different locations

As we’ve previously mentioned, outsourcing app development is a basic way to reduce costs, allowing you to save up to 60% of your development budget.

However, along with the stories of successful outsourcing like our client Leon’s, there are also lots of less positive ones. In pursuit of cost reduction, many entrepreneurs hire outsourcing teams that promise to develop their apps at a conservative $10,000 at the sales stage, which then turns into $70,000 at the development stage, and ultimately swells up to $150,000 at the launch stage.

So you should carefully choose your outsourcing software development partner. That’s why the next step to reduce the cost of mobile app development is to outsource the right way.

#3. Outsource to a company with experience in your niche

Choosing an app development partner who’s well-versed in your niche is the right way to cut the cost of development:

  • First, an outsourcing partner who has navigated your waters before will be able to deliver on each development stage faster and more efficiently, providing reliable advice based on previous experience.
  • Second, an experienced development team knows how to avoid industry-specific technical pitfalls that may occur during development. For example, the team can promptly define the right programming language, payment gateway, or tool for repelling robot-bot attacks your project requires.

As a result, choosing an outsourcing company with experience in your niche will save the time of the specialists working on your app, thereby reducing app creation costs.

#4. Choose the right type of contract

Three types of contracts in IT software outsourcing

Outsourcing your app development to a third-party vendor means signing a contract. There are three types of contracts in software development outsourcing, and your choice will influence the final cost:

  1. Fixed price contract. As the name suggests, with this model, you pay a fixed price to develop your app. This type of contract is suitable for small and medium-sized projects developed according to the Waterfall methodology. If this approach suits your app, you should consider several experienced vendors and work with the company offering the lowest price.
  2. Time and materials contract. This type of contract doesn’t allow you to agree on a fixed price. Instead, you pay for the actual work done. A time and materials contract is beneficial when it’s difficult to come up with an accurate estimate because of a project’s specifics. For example, legacy system modernization is often done under this type of contract, since it’s impossible to predict what technical surprises a legacy app will reveal.
  3. Dedicated teams. It’s reasonable to hire a dedicated team if you’re planning a large-scale project that will be developed according to the Agile methodology and you need a fully-fledged team of researchers, programmers, designers, testers, and marketers. This is the most expensive type of contract. However, it allows you to create a top-notch solution while staying flexible at each stage of development.

Analyze your project and choose the most suitable type of contract to reduce mobile app development costs.

#5. Choose progressive web app or cross-platform development if possible

Native apps are the most expensive and highest-end solutions. Sometimes, developing a native app for Android, iOS, or another operating system does make sense. For example, when 90% of your users own either Apple or Android devices and expect a high-end user experience.

However, if the share of Android and iOS users in your audience is nearly equal, you might consider cross-platform development that is able to cut your costs almost twice.

Read also: Comparison: React Native vs Native App Development

But take note that cross-platform development could not be a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing mobile app development costs. Despite being faster and cheaper in development, cross-platform solutions have a number of deficiencies:

  1. Limited performance
  2. Design and functionality constraints
  3. Third-party tool integration difficulties
  4. Hosting and data security issues

If these limitations don’t apply to your app idea, then it makes sense to go cross-platform. There are lots of technologies including React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin that allow developers to build cross-platform solutions with user experiences that are very close to those of native apps.

If you choose to develop a native app, you can use all our other tips to reduce the cost of your application.

To help you orient what development method to follow in your particular case, we offer a free 45-minute consultation with our business development expert.

#6. Follow the LEAN methodology at every step

Lean methodology: The continuous improvement cycle

The LEAN methodology was developed by Toyota with the goal of reducing the cost of automobile manufacturing while providing the best possible quality. Its essence is simple: you should test before investing.

In fact, all the advice we provide in this article is based on this methodology. The Business Model Canvas and subsequent minimum viable product (MVP) are its core concepts. An MVP is a kind of demo solution that comes with a basic set of functions that are then tested with the help of your users and improved step by step, taking users’ preferences, opinions, and impressions into account.

As a result, the LEAN approach allows you to pay for the features your users really need without overloading your product with excessive and costly functionality. What’s more, you may follow LEAN principles at each stage of software development, from validating your idea to promoting your launched product.

#7. Choose the Agile methodology

Agile and LEAN approaches to development are the perfect match when it comes to reducing mobile app development costs while staying flexible. According to the Agile approach, your technical team is always ready to adopt changes, taking your wishes and your users’ preferences into account.

However, Agile makes sense only with core LEAN principles in mind. Too much flexibility can be risky for your budget. That’s why each new hypothesis still needs to be validated, and adopting new practices requires careful preliminary research and testing. An article published by Villanova University explains how Agile and LEAN can work together in a healthy way.

#8. Use third-party APIs when possible

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are pieces of code that can be reused by various solutions. A lot of them are free or almost free. The simplest examples of APIs are maps or weather widgets that you can integrate into your app. If your project requires integrating a scheduling solution, you don’t need to build a custom booking appointment calendar from scratch — just use plug-and-play Calendly API.

Facebook or Google SDKs for easy user registration, Stripe or PayPal APIs for seamless in-app payments, or sensational ChatGPT API for next-gen communication — using APIs allows your tech team to save time on developing certain parts of your app, saving you some money.

#9. Be proactive with bug fixes

The exponential cost of fixing bugs according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology

The earlier a bug is detected, the less it costs to fix it according to NIST. That’s why it makes sense to carefully test each module as you create it. This will help you avoid a situation when a mistake made at the beginning of development will crash the whole system at the final testing stage.

#10. Look for simple but effective design solutions

Complex and extraordinary designs or numerous custom animations will extend the development process, making your app more expensive. Of course, custom design comes with a significant advantage. However, design solutions don’t always have to be complicated.

In the case of design, simplicity is synonymous with efficiency. Yes, to achieve simplicity, you’ll have to spend time looking for the optimal design solution and brainstorming ideas with your team, but the time invested in doing so will save you significant money on executing your design.

You might be interested in: Cost to design an app

#11. Keep your finger on the pulse of the development progress

Different cooperation models, be it fixed price, time and material contract, or a dedicated team, require different levels of participation from the client’s side. However, regardless of the type of contract you’ve chosen, it’s always important to stay on the same page with your developers.

Does it mean being constantly involved in the development process up to micromanaging or you should let your team float freely, requesting only monthly progress reports? The only right answer here is to manage your team in the way you feel is right.

Let the development of your product take its course, but follow its progress. Even experienced developers sometimes make mistakes, and a mistake noticed immediately costs less to fix than a mistake that slips through the cracks. Wise management prevents you from over-budgeting and reduces the total cost of app development.

#12. Automate software testing

Automating any process can provide a better return on investment (ROI) compared to doing the same process manually. Automated software testing is a proven practice you should consider following.

However, keep in mind that this approach makes sense when testing repeated scenarios: for example, in the case of regression testing. High-risk scenarios should be tested manually, and this is an area you shouldn’t try to save on.

Read also: Automated vs Manual Testing: Pros, Cons, and Which Is Better

What mistakes should startups avoid when cutting the cost of app development?

Three key development aspects you shouldn't save on

So far, we’ve analyzed how to reduce the cost to develop a mobile app. However, many companies try to save money by skipping critical steps of product development and considering certain actions unnecessary.

For example, INDX, a platform considered to be like Pinterest but for learning through content curated by a trustful community, after 18 months of development, couldn’t really find its product-market fit. Thomas Cotter, a co-founder, published a LinkedIn post where he announced they decided to shut down the project and return the investment capital.

Our head of the business development department Anton Baryshevskyi supported colleagues and noted that:

“Only 5% of all product innovations succeed. Admitting that your idea belongs to the other 95% after 18 months of active processing is a really tough decision[...] That’s why we at Mind Studios always focus on the discovery and idea validation stages before enrolling in any product design and development. We strive to gather extensive data about the problem, potential users, and the market to make only data-driven decisions on further product development.”

Here are three key aspects of development that require your investment and attention, as they directly impact the quality of the final product, user demand, and overall project success. Following them will help you not pay twice or even three times what you expected:

1. Picking the right company’s DNA

We’ve already mentioned that outsourcing your application development is one of the best ways to reduce the cost of mobile app development. For example, the average hourly rate for software development services in the US is $150, while it’s $25 to $55 in Eastern Europe according to Clutch. If we assume the development time doesn’t change based on the developer’s location, then this can be a fivefold decrease in the final price.

The human factor is important at every stage of application development, from validating an idea to releasing a product to the market. An idea that’s promising for the Chinese market may not stand a chance in the American and European markets. An application created by developers who have a different paradigm of thinking than the target users is also unlikely to be embraced.

Read more: How to launch an app in China

The right decision is to find an outsourcing partner whose mentality resonates with that of you and your users. This will help you stay on the same page with your developers and, most importantly, with your future customers.

For this reason, American and Western European companies often outsource to Eastern Europe. Eastern European outsourcing companies offer minimal differences in mentality, a convenient time difference with overlapping working hours, and a significant difference in developers’ rates compared to Western Europe and the USA.

2. Conducting UX research and UAT testing

Following the best practices of the LEAN methodology, user experience (UX) research and user acceptance testing (UAT) are two other ways to save money on mobile app development costs. However, many companies skip this stage of development, labeling it unnecessary and something that increases the cost of a product.

In practice, UX research and UAT testing allow you to validate each of your design ideas and features, making sure your solution will meet user expectations:

  • User experience research allows you to reduce the cost of creating an MVP, as it allows you to analyze users’ goals, pain points, mental models, journeys, and overall first impressions.
  • User acceptance testing is the last stage of product development. It allows you to reassure yourself that your solution works as planned, that users can use it according to your roadmaps and concepts, and that the entire user experience is seamless. User acceptance testing also allows you to confirm the effectiveness of in-house product testing and insure yourself against the risk of releasing a poorly working solution to the market.

3. QA testing

According to Statista, 20% to 35% of development budgets are spent on quality assurance. This is a significant percentage, which may make you want to cut costs at this stage. However, in reality, testing the quality of your product does not inflate your budget. It actually saves it, because the later you find a bug in your code, the more expensive it is to fix.

Moreover, a poor-quality product is a direct threat to your reputation. 88% of users abandon apps because of bugs according to App Development Magazine. They likely won’t give your app a second chance, and bad reviews unfortunately tend to spread much faster than good reviews.

How to estimate the cost of mobile project development?

In a perfect world there would have been a flawless project estimation template, where a development team could just tick the right options and have a set of ready-made estimates at once - and also, calculate mobile app development costs easily. In the world we live in things work in a different order though.

The first thing that needs to be done when trying to estimate the app development process is to ensure that mobile app developers are clearly in tune and fully understand the whole mobile app product requirements document. This understanding is not an instantly obtained feature which is why in Mind Studios we do have the full-length stage of business analysis to start with.

Basically, all the app development costs and their iOS/Android or backend, or even cross-platform estimation processes could be divided into 2 types: the rough and the definite estimates.

Rough vs Definite Approaches

Rough versus Definite estimates

It is hardly a revelation that moderate estimates can not be given just on the spot, as this is a complex & time-consuming process. So the first projections are likely to be the rough ones. The team obtaining a solid experience can give a by-sight evaluation right where they start, just on the spot - but it would be quite a blurry guess, same with a huge blunder.

So at the time the practice of “estimates survey” has become real - the practice where a client asks several teams, one after another (or all of them simultaneously) to estimate the cost of developing a mobile app, and collects the feedback from 4-5 custom app development teams eventually gets a price range starting at $20k and going up, hitting the peak of $40k; as when we talk about rough estimates, the numbers will be really ballpark-given. When there is a precise project measurement fine, it maximises the chance of calculating the “one for all” application development cost. And here a lot of questions may occur: Why is the difference so huge? Uniting with which team would be most beneficial in terms of time and money? How much would my project ultimately cost? And here comes the need of precise estimates.

Read about mobile app design cost.

How do we estimate the cost of app development?

how to estimate app development cost

At Mind Studios, we estimate the app development cost in these 6 stages:

  1. You contact us and provide information about your project.
  2. We contact you to get general information.
  3. Our project managers conduct basic research and calculate a rough estimate.
  4. We get back to you with our estimate.
  5. If all is good, we start a more thorough discussion with you as to the functionality and contents of your app.
  6. We build a more precise estimate based on complete information.

After the final estimate of the app development cost, there can still be adjustments in case new features are introduced or extra technology is required. With any changes, slight cost adjustments are possible. However, the cost generally doesn’t stray too far from the final estimate.

Before app development begins, reliable software development firms usually provide you with a rough mobile app development cost estimate. The quote is based on your project description, and business and technical requirements. This information is combined and concluded in a preliminary list of features.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes the initial estimates and the actual application development costs don’t meet in the end. Apart from the obvious assumption of the estimate not being correct in the first place, there is another common reason for the mismatch, and that is the change in the app development scope. This can happen if:

  • The client decides to increase the number of features or make some other drastic changes to the project midway
  • The MVP launch or the soft launch, during which the initial feedback is being collected, shows that the team has to make some significant adjustments or even look for entirely new solutions

Luckily, these disparities can be avoided in most cases by investing the time and money in the proper discovery stage. That’s the first thing Mind Studios’ team does after taking on a new project. During the discovery stage, we determine whether there’s actually a need for the app on the market, which features the target audience will require, and how we can make the new product stand out from the competition.

The best practices for mobile app estimation templates would have these actionable tips implemented:

1.Formalize all the project requirements.
Only after reaching an agreement upon this, start with prototypes creation and system workflow descriptions within the specification file.

2.Ensure that project managing team splits all the functional available into small logical chunks.
For example, the huge “onboarding” chunk could consist out of features like:

  • sign in
  • sign up
  • sign in via social networks
  • forgot password
  • password reset
  • sign out

Every feature out of mentioned above could be even smaller, could be split further - tech tasks appear out of split tasks.

3.Don’t try to save millions on the business analysis and prototypes stages.
...if you are interested in a profound project estimation. Judging from the experience we possess, it would take up from one 1 week for a specification creation, and at least one more week to sketch the prototypes that would represent project’s visual part. Normally the type of contract preferred for this type of services is a time-and-materials one.


Native or cross-platform, simple or complex, developed in North America, Asia, or Eastern Europe — there are numerous aspects that can influence the price of building a mobile application. Even knowing how much does app development costs in 2023, it’s still hard to make an accurate estimate without knowing the specifics of the project. However, in this article, we’ve covered the most common types of mobile apps, like healthcare apps, out there on the market, so that you can get a rough idea of what your project can cost you.

If you’d like to get a more accurate estimate for a mobile app you have in mind, our business development team will be happy to conduct a free consultation for you.

During the meeting, feel free to discuss your idea and ask our team any questions regarding the app development process and cost, as well as our experience of working with similar projects. We are confident that together we can build a mobile app that will meet the business goals you have set.