How Much Does An App Cost?

February 28, 2019 | Black Flag Creative, Mobile Apps

It’s safe to say that there is an app for everything. Think about it, no matter what type of mobile app you are looking for, it’s been created. This market is becoming heavily saturated with an assortment of games, organizational, and even music applications.

As you are reading this article, someone, somewhere in the world is pitching an app idea to their family or friends. The challenge becomes that, even though we may have a mobile app idea, we often don’t know how much it might cost to make it – or what to do.

Previously, we talked about how to get started with your app idea. If you have not taken the chance to read that article, take the time to do so. It may help throughout the mobile application creation process.

If you are confident that your mobile app idea is a money maker – or you need one for your business for employment purposes, at Black Flag Creative, we have a treat of an article for you.  Today, we are going to cover the many different facets of mobile application costs – and how you can predict the development of your app.

Shall we begin matey?

What Impacts Mobile Application Costs

Before we jump into the details, we would like you to know that the price to build an app varies tremendously. There are numerous factors that contribute to and impact the development costs of a mobile application. For example, the cost of an app will depend heavily on the type of developer you choose. In the standard market, there are three different ways that an app can be built. Evidently, the price will fluctuate on which you choose.

1. App Development Agency

The first choice that a business can choose from is an app development agency. Depending on the complexity of your app – and the customization features,  the price can range between $15,000 – $1,000,000.

If you happen to select a large app development agency, you can anticipate paying much higher costs, ranging from $500,000 – $1,000,000. At this tier and price bracket, you will have an entire dedicated team working on your project. This will include, but not limited to, branding, research, design, development, marketing, and post-launch services.

If you are curious, agencies, like Black Flag Creative, will generally charge $35,000 – $250,000. For a basic app, we assign a dedicated team which consists of one project manager, a UX/UI designer, two developers, and a quality assurance engineer to make sure your app comes through every step with perfection. With our crew, we ensure that you are informed as to what’s happening – and give the opportunity to ask questions throughout the process. Once your app is launched, we provide you with post-launch assistance such as bug fixes, adding new features, design changes, and SEO services.

Depending on the complexity of your app – and the customization features,  the price can range between $15,000 – $1,000,000.

Another option is to select an offshore mobile app development agency, which may reduce your costs. You can develop an app for as little as $15,000 – $30,000; however, like most things in the digital marketing industry, you get what you pay for. It’s vital to select a mobile app developer that understands the ins-and-outs of app development and design. It is safe to say that the quality, performance, and scalability will differ tremendously, which is important to note.

Three digital marketing students sitting at wooden chairs using their MacBooks| Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles
Team Working Together | Photo Credit: Annie Spratt

2. Freelancers

This is another option if you’re trying to save money, but it’s not always the most efficient one. Businesses can always elect to hire freelancers. Now, app development typically requires a well-oiled team that understands the complexities of mobile app development and design – and can communicate that with business owners in an understandable manner.

In the freelancer industry, it’s virtually impossible to find a team of freelancers who can work collectively towards creating your mobile app. In the event that a company can pull off such a feat, it can be a beneficial means to save money while getting an app developed.

Additionally, it’s important to note that freelancers often charge by the hour or by the project. These rates and prices will depend upon one’s experience, location, expertise, and education. Businesses can expect to spend between $10-$250 an hour when taking this route.

3. Your own team

If you have business experience, or have some technical skill, you can build your own team to develop an app. For example, if you are a designer, you may be able to find an individual that understands the development aspect of mobile applications. This individual could become a co-founder of the app, should they share the same passion and goals as you.  In such cases, you will have to pay with equity.

While this can be a cost-effective means of developing a mobile app, there is a larger room for error and an increased risk of problems throughout the development process. Due to this, many businesses and entrepreneurs tend to prefer finding an agency that matches their need and budget.

What Are Other Impacts on Mobile App Costs?

Women with maroon nails holding iPhone X, showcasing iOS system | Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles
Woman Holding iPhone X | Photo Credit:

As we mentioned at the start of the article, there are many different factors that can impact the price of a mobile app. The developer that you hire is merely one of the many different factors that must be taken into consideration.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into a few more important factors that have a significant impact on how much you may end up paying for your app.

1. Platform

One of the biggest determinants of the cost comes down to what platform you are planning on working with. Businesses have the choice between iOS, Android, or both. Whichever you choose, the app will be developed in a native programing language in accordance with the platform. For informational purposes,  iOS uses Swift and Android uses Java.

At Black Flag Creative, we encourage these two platforms and native programming languages as they are the best option, proven to be stable and reliable. Do note, should you require both platforms, your cost might go up 40% or more.

You can also go for a cross-platform or hybrid app, which means an app built for multiple platforms. However, this is not the best practice. Often, this leads to some major issues.

Lines Of Code | Photo Credit: Chris Ried

2. Mobile App Design

What many businesses don’t know is that an app can be designed using templates, like that of a WordPress website. Naturally, this saves time and money; however, apps designed using templates lack unique qualities and personalization or customization.

Though pricier, a custom designed user interface is the best choice – especially if you want to impress customers.

Custom mobile app design is not limited to the user interface. When developing a custom mobile app, designers and developers can introduce heavy graphics, custom icons, stunning animations, and numerous other features to help the app stand out.

One of the biggest determinants of the cost comes down to what platform you are planning on working with.

Given that the mobile app market has grown exponentially, it’s quite critical for apps to be unique and aesthetically appealing. In truth, the extra money you’ll spend will surely prove worth it for an app that is aesthetically pleasing and provides a superior user experience.

3. Features

Evidently, one of the biggest cost drivers of mobile applications is the quantity and quality of features your app requires. There are many app builds and concepts are very complex by nature. For example, it might require integration of third-party API or a huge database, evidently depending on your needs.  

One of the most common examples of a complex concept is a payment gateway. This is typically for businesses that want their application to have a secure payment solution. In this,  their app will need a payment gateway like Stripe. In another example, if you want real-time chat services on your app, you might have to go with a provider such as PubNub. To integrate these special features into a mobile app, it will add to your total cost.

Furthermore, there are some other common features that many businesses often request that can drive up costs. Features such as login, user profiles, geolocation, device sensors, rating systems, and social media integration can increase your app cost by as much as $3,000 – $12,000+.

Costs of Popular Mobile Apps

Image of Uber home screen on a mobile device | Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles
Person Holding Smart Phone | Photo Credit:

To make things clearer, let’s look at how much popular apps, like Uber or Tinder, cost to build.

  • An app like Uber will cost around $1,000,000 – $1,500,000. This fee includes backend development, API for a real-time map, and a secure payment gateway. Note that an app like Uber requires time and all rounds of funding to get to where it is now. Uber started with an idea, and after spending over a million through different stages of funding the ride share app everyone knows and loves was born.
  • Something similar to Tinder will cost between $500,000 – $800,000. This includes backend, complex database, and photo filters.
Uber and Tinder Cost Comparison | Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles
Uber and Tinder Cost Comparison | Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles

4) Post App Expenses

It doesn’t matter how good your app is or how great of a problem it might solve, you have to heavily invest in marketing to reach your target users.

When it comes to mobile app development, businesses often forget about what happens after the app is designed and developed. At this stage, you will have to invest in the marketing and sales of your new app. Just making an app will not get you anywhere. So, it’s critical to factor this into your budget.

You will have to invest in the marketing and sales of your new app. Just making an app will not get you anywhere.

It may prove beneficial to communicate with your developer as to whether or not they offer any post-app development services, including marketing. Proper marketing strategy can determine your app’s success or failure.

Mobile App Development and Design is an Investment

A mobile app idea might sound simple but, when it comes to building it, you have to think of platforms, UX, design, backend, frontend, CMS, API, security, server, user testing, and other important factors. Each will impact the cost of your app.

You might consider investing in a good design and prototype to test your idea before going for full development. Frequently, people ignore the UX (user experience) of an app for the sake of budget, which is a big mistake. Your app might not gain traction due to the bad user experience.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Our advice is, when going for final development, choose the platform based on your target users. You really do not need to build an app for each and every platform at the start.

If you are planning on hiring an agency, take the time to perform the research to hire a credible and reputable mobile app development agency. Look at different user reviews, awards, portfolios, and even review websites like Clutch. For example, take a look at what our clients have to say about Black Flag Creative on Clutch.

How Much Does Your App Idea Cost?

Digital Estimator Website Home page | Black Flag Creative, Los Angeles

Are you wondering how much your app idea could cost? Well, to make your planning stages easier, Black Flag Creative has a unique tool that can help businesses plan and prepare for how much their app may cost.

Click Here to Get An App Cost Estimate!

Thank Ye for Reading Matey!