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How Much Does it Cost to Build an App?

When it comes to the price of websites and/or apps, there often seems to be a disconnect—or perhaps a miscalculation—between developers and clients. To answer the question, “How much does it cost to build an app?” there are a lot of factors to consider. The range in cost can be anywhere from five to seven figures depending on the project.

To get a good idea of what your budget should be, we’ve highlighted the most critical considerations when estimating the price of your app.

Consider the Complexity

Let’s start with a standalone app, one without any server or API integration. While it may seem like this is a straightforward build, these projects can become extremely complex. Although this software is not bundled and is designed for one platform, the cost is still heavily based on the features of the app.

Most business owners and startups ultimately want their app to work for both iOS and Android. It’s a great goal and should absolutely be an objective. That being said, by and large, a v1.0 app built for both operating systems is going to have a higher price tag than one platform.

To get a professional full-service firm to build a quality app without a server component or API, a safe minimal budget is around $25,000. Nonetheless, the complexity of the software can still increase the price (even of a standalone) to the $100,000 range.

Conversely, if you’re looking for an app with a server component, API integration, and solid functionality on multiple platforms, any discussion of cost generally opens with a six figure number. Again, depending on the features of the app, this price can fluctuate.

One of the most antiquated and overused phrases in the tech industry is some iteration of the following: “I’m building an app that is like the Uber of [insert industry].” If that is the case, then buckle up. According to Crunchbase, Uber accumulated $200,000 in seed capital and then another $1.25 million in angel investments to fund their server-heavy operation.

As a generally rule of thumb, to build an app like Uber, which is built for multiple platforms with a highly complex interface and a robust back-end, the approximate cost would likely be around $500,000.


Consider the Company

Consider what kind of company you’re looking for to build your app. If you think it’s a simple build, a freelance developer may be your best bet. However, if you foresee some complicated features on your app’s horizon, then you’re going to want a team… but not just any team.

If you’re looking for quality, you need to find a vetted agency with a solid portfolio and legitimate testimonials. Otherwise, you may end up with a firm that burns your budget and does subpar work. This is not to suggest that agencies set out to do shoddy job, it’s just that sometimes they bite off more than they can chew and haven’t yet hired the talent to develop complex, high quality apps.


Consider the Upkeep

Keep in mind, many estimates—even those that fall in the six figure range—are generally for a v1.0 app. There will oftentimes be a minimum budget that is outlined following the preliminary budget to bring the app to market. Quality software brings with it the costs of ongoing updates, potential server costs, and additional man hours.


Consider the Timeline

Compared with websites, app development requires a longer timeframe. For a high-quality, functional v1.0 app, a safe bet is around four to six months. Be wary of companies that promise significantly shorter timeframes than other quoted developers, with the exception of massive firms. However, be aware that an expedited timeframe will cost you, as the behemoths can run you nearly double that of a medium or boutique-sized agency.

Again, if you’re adding a multitude of features, timelines even for a v1.0 app can stretch up to a year.

Although, that amount of time should not strike you as a setback. A great app makes life better, easier, faster, more beautiful, etc., and good quality means a later shipping date. Yes, developers can build software in a few weeks, but it’s going to have a slim chance of success when it goes to market.

If you’re budget is smaller and your timeline is shorter, there is still an option for creating a quality app: simply cutback your feature list (at least for the v1.0). Being really good at just one thing is often what makes an app successful in the long run.


Consider Other Quotes

If you’ve started shopping around for quotes, you’ve probably seen estimates all over the board. Freelancers may be quoting in the $5,000-$10,000 range, while mid-sized firms are quotes a variety of six figure estimates.

Formotus compiled a small list of app development companies’ quote ranges and the finding had quite a spread:

  • Savvy Apps: $500,000 to $1,000,000
  • Applico: $5,000 to $500,000
  • StarMobile: $50,000 to $250,000


To Answer the Question:

If you’re not building the next Uber, chances are you’ll land in the $25,000 to $100,000 range. If it’s a small app that a freelancer can handle, your budget should be around $5,000 to $10,000. Finally, if you’re trying to build an app with a substantial backend, a significant server component, and API integration, the price tag could be between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

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