What Is the Average Cost To Develop an App? A Step-by-Step Breakdown

cost to develop an app

Did you know there are over six billion smartphone users worldwide? And by 2027, users are expected to increase to over seven billion. Some users check their phones up to one hundred times a day, and app usage is higher than ever.

If you’re thinking about developing your own app, now’s the time. But where to start, and what will be the app cost? Creating an app development budget is no easy task, but we’re here to help you through it.

The cost to develop an app can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And app cost will be decided on several factors, including app complexity, features, and budget. So keep reading for the full breakdown.

Cost to Develop an App

The overall cost of your app’s development will probably be your first question. This depends on several factors, which we will break down for you below.

The first step is deciding on the fundamental complexity that you want for your application.

Simple Apps

Simple apps are usually low-tech and feature only what the user needs. There are no extras, and they can feature a few screens, notifications, and a login.

Simple apps do the job without stretching your budget and can take around two to four months to create.

Average cost of simple app development: $50,000

Basic Apps

Basic apps come with additional features like more screens and custom UI. They offer the user a more in-depth experience with options like social media integration and in-app purchasing. Basic apps can take anywhere from three to six months to develop.

Average cost of basic app development: $60,000 – $150,000

Complex Apps

Complex apps are the ideal solution for a large business. They can be fully customized with features like data synch, custom coding, and multiple screens. Complex apps are often created from the ground up, which can take up to a year to complete.

Average cost of complex app development: $300,000 +

Choosing an App Platform

One of the first decisions you need to make for app development is deciding on a platform. You’ll have various options, and choosing will depend on your needs.

iOS Apps

iOS apps are for Apple smartphones, and you can feature them in the app store. Users with iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices will be your core audience.

iOS apps are considered native apps and provide a quality user experience for your customers.

Average cost to set up an iOS app: $10,000 – $15,000

Android Apps

Android apps reach the largest audience due to the popularity of the Android platform. Up to 50 percent of phones run off the Andriod operating system, and the apps are featured in the Google Play store. So you can use Android to reach the largest market.

Average cost to set up an Android app: $10,000 -$15,000

Web Apps

Web applications are accessed via the internet using a browser interface. Typical web apps use Javascript and HTML coding to function properly.

If you’d like to create an app that’s less focused on the mobile experience, this is a good option for you. 

Average cost to set up a web app: $15,000 – $20,000

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps can go cross-platform, a huge plus for companies that want to target the most people.

Essentially, you’re trading platform optimization for accessibility. But you’ll lose certain native app features, and the app will be less optimized overall.

Average cost to set up a hybrid app: $15,000 – $20,000

Choosing App Designs

Choosing a design for your app is essential to your app creation. You can choose from app design templates, custom app designs, and professional designs.

App Design Templates

Design templates require little technical knowledge, and they’re easy to utilize. As the most budget-friendly option, they come with basic features and some customization. Though, if you want to create a complex app, you’ll need to choose another option.

Average cost for design templates: $1,000 – $2,000

Custom App Designs

Hiring a custom app designer is essential for businesses that want something unique. Your app will look higher quality, and you’ll be able to create something more articulate.

Custom app designs enhance functionality, complexity, and app customization options.

Average cost for custom app designs: $2,500 – $5,000

Professional App Designs

If you want to build a top-of-the-line application, you’ll want to hire a professional agency. Hiring a professional will take longer and cost much more. Though, you’ll end up with an app that exceeds your expectations and reflects your investment.

Average cost for professional designs: $10,000

Choosing Security for Your Application

It’s important to think about security levels when you launch an app.

You don’t want to be dealing with hackers and other costly issues. You have a few options when it comes to security, including a basic level, advanced level, and data encryption.

Basic Security

Basic security is the lowest level of app security. This usually involves tasks like securing source code, which your team will need to scan for weaknesses. At the very least, your developer should be able to provide you with basic security measures.

Cost of basic app security: $1,000

Data Encryption

Data encryption is the next tier in security solutions. Employing this method will prevent your data from cyber hackers.

Your development team may scan APIs to ensure they are safe to use. And you can also have them create encrypted files for sensitive data.

Cost of data encryption: $1,500 – $2,500

Advanced Security

Advanced security is recommended for complex apps with many moving parts. This is the best security option you can employ, and it will ensure your app is fully protected. Advanced security will keep your data secure using strict measures.

Cost of advanced security: $4,000 – $7,000

Determining App Features

A majority of your costs will come from the number of features you want to incorporate into your app. This will decide the complexity of your app and what you’ll need.


A developer can set up logins for your app using API from social platforms and email accounts.

This is a basic-level feature that many app creators like to include. For example, Instagram allows you to set up an account using your Facebook login.

Average cost for login feature: $1,000 – $1,500


Media features will allow you to incorporate videos, music, and audio into your application. This can help liven up your app and make it more interactive for your users. This feature is best if you want features like live streaming and video/audio playback.

Average cost for media features: $1,800 – $3,000


App utilities are features that mesh with your users mobile devices. App utilities can include things like Bluetooth, QR code scanners, geolocations, and phone sensors. An example app that uses utilities is MyFitnessPal which uses QR code scanning.

Average cost for utility features: $4,000 – $6,000


UX stands for user experience, and they help enhance your app’s user experience. UX features can include a wide range of offerings for users. Common examples of UX features include biometric logins, push notifications, and SMS messaging.

Average cost for UX features: $4,000 – $6,000


Administrative features are for you and your development team. They can help you to continuously improve your app’s user experience. Common admin features can include app analytics, app crash reports, and a content management system (CMS).

Average cost for Admin features: $3,000 – $4,500


General app features cover the basics, like advertisements and in-app purchasing. These features are great if you’d like to monetize your application. In-app purchases are a terrific way to market your app for free, and your users can pay as they go.

Average cost for general features: $1,500 – $3,000

App Developer Options

Choosing an application developer is a vital step in the overall success of your project. It will also affect your budget and the app complexity you have to work with.

Youll want to choose a developer who meets your budget and delivers the best quality services. 

Using a Local Agency

Local agencies can work well for smaller projects. They’ll communicate well and most certainly get the job done—plus, the quality of the work will be high-end. If money isn’t an issue, hiring a local agency will get you excellent service and a quality product.

Average cost of developing an app with a local agency: $80,000 – $100,000

Creating an In-House Team

If you have an IT department and the resources, you can start your own team for your app development project.

This route will ensure you get constant communication, ideas, and transparency. Though, it’s a costly option and requires a lot of management.

Average cost of developing an app with an in-house team: $100,000

Hiring a Freelancer

Freelancers are a great solution and are often budget-friendly. There’s a lot of talent in the freelance market, and you could end up with an impressive app.

Hiring a freelancer also allows you to experiment, but communication will be essential in the process.

Average hourly cost of a freelancer in the United States: $50

Outsourcing App Development

Outsourcing could be a valid solution if your project is highly complex and you can dish out a lot of cash. However, the cost of developing an app can vary from country to country.

Plus, you have plenty of foreign agencies to choose from that can deliver a quality product.

Average cost of outsourcing app development: $50,000 – $100,000

How to Hire an App Developer

Before you choose an app developer, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. IT companies vary greatly, so you must do research before deciding. Ultimately, you want the developer to meet your expectations and budget.

Decide on a Budget and Timeline

It’s crucial that you carve out a timeline and budget for your project before making any decisions. This will ensure that you don’t accept any offers that may backfire. 

An easy way to estimate your app development cost is to calculate project complexity and hourly rate. You can use this price estimate when hiring a developer.

Working with Full-Service Companies

Choosing a full-service developer will be the easiest way to complete your project on time and within your budget.

A full-service developer will provide you with everything you need for your app, from creation, design, development, and testing. It will be much easier than recruiting different people to work on various parts of your project.

Interviewing Developers

After you’ve found a developer you’d like to move forward with, it’s a good idea to ask them some questions. Discuss the developer’s background in app development. Also, talk to them about your ideas noting their initial thoughts on your project.

Interviews are an ideal way to help you decide whether a developer is a good fit for your project. And it will make you more confident in your final decision.

Checking a Companys Portfolio

Before hiring anyone, make sure you investigate their portfolio. If they don’t have one available, ask them to show you some of the apps they’ve previously developed. Pay attention to the design, functionality, and user experience the app provides.

Reviewing a company’s previous work will help you understand what the developer is capable of achieving. After all, their work will be a reflection of your final product.

Build an App with Vermillion Sky

The cost to develop an app can vary based on the complexity of your project and the developer you choose. In closing, remember to create a plan that includes your budget and a timeline. Then choose a developer that’s fully equipped to handle your project.

Whether you’re a startup, an enterprise, or a founder, we’d love to help you create the app of your dreams. Our team consists of top-tier strategists, designers, and developers that can turn your vision into a reality. Contact us today to get a free project quote!

Ken Vermeille
Ken Vermeille
The founder and CEO of Vermillion Sky. Ken Vermeille has 15 years of experience in product design and development. Creating his first website at 12 years old, he continues to build his talents by leveraging his ability to learn and implement any technology. In the past he's worked on mobile and web apps, video games, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, business model generation, and anything to keep Vermillion Sky at the cutting edge of product design and development.

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