How much it will cost to make an app in 2018

Lukasz Karwacki - Co-Founder & CEO at Sunscrapers

Lukasz Karwacki

9 January 2018, 5 min read

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According to a recent report, in 2017 2.32 billion people owned a smartphone. Mobile apps bring $90 billions of revenue all over the globe and experts predict that the sector will grow by 214% until 2020.

Investing in a mobile app is a smart move. But don't forget that mobile app development is a complicated process that brings together not only software developers, but also project managers, testers, and graphic designers who all have unique skill sets that power the success of an app.

That's also why app development can be so costly.

So how much will it cost to make an app in 2018? Here's a detailed guide to help you understand which factors contribute to app development cost and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.

Create your mobile development budget

Before we move on to more specific tips on how development costs rise or fall, let's have a general look at the problem.

A simple mobile app designed for one platform will cost you at least $15,000. The upper limit is pretty much indefinite. It depends on how complex your app is and how many specialists it will involve. Some apps can cost even $1 million. However, on average a mobile app won't exceed $500,000. As you can see, the price range for app development is vast.

At Sunscrapers, we believe that a good mobile app can be completed within a budget oscillating at. Naturally, every development project we take on needs to balance out these three essential elements:

  • pricing,
  • process speed,
  • quality.

Understand the contributing factors

App development depends on these primary factors:

a. The type of app you plan to build

Since the overall cost of development is based on the number of hours various experts spend on building the app, the more complex the application you envision, the higher the price.

The cheapest option is building a simple app with one basic functionality that doesn't require a lot of backend work. That type of app is an excellent access point for newbies in the mobile industry. Founders often choose it to serve as their minimal viable product (MVP) that can bring significant value to users and generate profit.

If you're planning a more complex application, bear in mind that it might require a database, social features, external API integration, advanced admin options, or others. All these features involve more advanced software architecture and take much more time to create.

If you plan to use virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, 3D, or other custom utilities, it's best to ask an experienced developer who knows the field well for an estimation as pricing may differ significantly in these areas.

b. Functionalities and platforms

The functionalities of an app are the specific features such as geolocation, in-app purchases, or payment processing it has – and you can be sure that each of them will take a different amount of time to develop. That's why making accurate estimations about every functionality in your app is so difficult.

An average pricing for a single feature can range from just a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Another critical factor that influences the cost of your app is the platform on which you want your app to be available. You can't simply copy an Android app to iOS or Windows Phone. The price of your development project will rise together with the number of platforms it involves – and don't expect to just multiply the cost of one app by 2 or 3.

c. Development phases

App development is a complicated process involving many different phases. At Sunscrapers, we like to start with a scoping session for product development, and later turn to for planning, design, coding, and testing. We believe that all these stages are necessary to create a functional app, but also a good product.

Curious about the cost of each development phase? A recent survey by Clutch revealed the average pricing of every development stage, assuming an hourly rate of $150 an hour.

d. Hiring a software house vs. freelancers

You might be tempted to cut development costs by hiring a freelancer. After all, freelance developers are much cheaper. But will you be able to assess the quality of their code and pick the right developer for your project?

Hiring developers from an agency is a smart move because they will provide you with a set of skills and knowledge that is impossible to get from a freelancer. You won't need to worry about project management either – you will be collaborating with a team managed by someone else.

Hiring a software house to develop your mobile app is a way to ensure that you get top talent on board – a team of developers who are up-to-date with the latest developments, and have all the skills and experience to bring your project to success.

Moreover, some software houses will offer you much more than just development services. At Sunscrapers, we are proactive and like to contribute to product development.

Have you got an idea for an app? Drop us a line at, we're happy to talk about your product.



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