How Much Does It Cost to Create a Mobile App for a Small Business?

By: Julia Nasy
21 Jul. 2023
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Each company contemplating its own software development is primarily interested in its cost. A mobile app development cost estimate is an important and, at the same time, complex issue. The fact is that software companies can only provide the exact cost after first learning about your business and its goals, application type and features, app project complexity, and budget. However, it is quite real to calculate the range based on the latest industry reports.

Further, in this article, we will analyze in detail multiple factors that affect the cost of developing mobile applications. In addition, we’ll cover important and hidden aspects of app creation that also need to be considered. Keep reading to know how much it costs to build an app for small businesses.

App Development Budget per Phase

To answer the question, “How much does it cost to build a mobile app?” we need first to understand how app development price is divided among the early stages of development. This knowledge will help to determine the budget and to make better financial decisions. An average app development cost breakdown is as follows:

  • business analytics – 10%;
  • UI/UX design – 15%;
  • project management – 15%;
  • development, app testing, and deployment – 60%.

Such a wide range in percentage is associated with the difference between the goals and objectives of stages. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four phases and their average cost.

Cost of Business Analysis

Mobile app development starts with the discovery phase, which consists of market analysis, target audience research, and concepting. Business analysts learn all the details of the client’s idea to draw up a proposal. In this stage, the team actively strategies, focusing on the following key aspects:

  • definition of the project objectives;
  • market trends and users research;
  • determining app features and requirements.

At the end of this stage, the app development company provides clients an in-depth roadmap, which helps to budget and plan further steps. An app vision should be clear and concise to be easily understood by everyone involved in the mobile app development process. A rough cost for the strategy phase ranges from $1,000 to $12,000, and the anticipated timeline is 2-4 weeks.

Cost of Mobile App Design

User interface design is essential since they form the first impression of the application. A seamless and engaging user experience, along with a user-friendly interface, is a must for the success of modern mobile apps. Therefore, you should not save on design, as it can lead to a lack of visual appeal in the final product.

The design stage involves the development of a clickable prototype. It allows you to test UX before the app coding. The cost of this phase largely depends on the app’s complexity. A large number of screens and custom-design elements requires more hours. The cost is also influenced by the experience level of a design team. Therefore, the design stage’s expenses range from $5,000 to $55,000. The duration of this phase can vary from a few weeks to a couple of months, based on the scope and complexity.

Cost of Project Management

Every app development project requires proper monitoring and control. Project managers play a crucial role throughout the whole process of application building. They liaise between teams and ensure the app is delivered on time, within budget, and meets the specified objectives. The cost of project management ranges quite widely – from $1,500 to $15,000. But remember that any attempt to reduce the budget can negatively affect the final product.

Cost of Development

Similarly to the previous phases, the cost of app architecture and functionality development depends on its complexity and feature set. For example, mobile app development costs for a small business start from $3,000, while the price for complex apps for large enterprises may exceed $250,000.

As for average price, the app development cost breakdown typically looks something like this:

  • directly the development phase – $5,000-$30,000;
  • testing and deployment stage – $5,000-$25,000.

However, clients can save money by opting for cross-platform development. It requires less time than creating a mobile app for two separate platforms and can save up to 30% of your budget.

Mobile App Development Cost by Type

The type of application is another important factor influencing the total app development cost. Below is a list of the main types of applications in each category and the average app development cost involved.

App Cost by Development Approach

There are four main types of mobile apps based on the development approach: native, cross-platform, web, and hybrid. Native app development refers to the process of creating a mobile app exclusively for a particular platform or operating system. It delivers a better user experience and overall performance. But it costs more than other types – from $50,000 to $500,000. Meanwhile, the cost of iOS app development begins from $75,000. Android app development is less expensive and ranges between $50,000 and $500,000.

Cross-platform app development is an approach that allows building an application compatible with multiple platforms. Since it takes less time, the average cost of cross-platform applications is significantly lower than the development of native ones – $25,000 to $60,000. Web apps are also cost-efficient compared to native applications and cost $15,000-$50,000. And finally, hybrid app development, which combines elements of both native and web applications, can range from $25,000 to $150,000 or more.

Cost of App Development by Complexity

The complexity level of a mobile application depends on many factors: features, integrations, type of application, design, platform on which the app will run, etc. Accordingly, the smaller and simpler the app, the shorter the development time and the lower the cost, and vice versa. But first, let’s figure out what simple, mid-level, and complex apps are.

  • Basic application. Simple apps include only a few features, such as login and signup, profile creation and editing, search, notifications, messages, admin panel, and others. It doesn’t store data and has only 3-4 screens. Basic app development cost is from $16,000 to $40,000 or more. The terms are 2-4 months.
  • Mid-level application. In addition to the basic features above, mid-level apps provide more complicated functions: geolocation, purchases, payment options, improved security, real-time messaging, etc. They also have API integrations, for example, with social media, more screens, and custom UI. Medium complexity app requires data storage and synchronization, which increases the cost of app development. The development timeline takes 6-10 months, and the app cost ranges from $70,000 to $100,000.
  • Complex mobile application. This category includes multifunction apps that are usually designed for big businesses. They have such advanced features as online streaming, real-time synchronization, video chat, chatbot, and in-app voice call. With them, users can manage large data sets and use analytics for better decision-making. Such enterprise or domain-specific software integrates easily with existing systems and communicates seamlessly with other tools and platforms. Complex app development takes an average of 9 months and up. Its price tag starts from $80,000 and goes beyond $250,000.

Related reading: How Much Does It Cost to Develop an IoT App

Mobile App Development Cost by Region

App developer hourly rates vary greatly across countries. High-cost-of-living regions like the United States, Canada, and the UK have the highest hourly rates. But on the other hand, they have numerous benefits, such as a lack of language barriers and reduced miscommunications. Hiring app developers from Asian countries is the most budget-friendly option. But wide cultural differences, different approaches to work, and distance can lead to higher expenses in the long-term perspective.

In this way, hiring a development team from Eastern Europe is the optimal choice. App development companies from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine are good partners for businesses looking to develop high-quality mobile applications within a reasonable budget.

Below is the comparison of developers’ rates in different regions:

  • North America – $100-$120;
  • Australia – $100-$120;
  • Latin America – $30-$50;
  • Western Europe – $80-$100;
  • Eastern Europe – $30-$50;
  • India – $20-$30.

App Cost Based on Feature Set

The more functionality you plan for the application, the higher the cost of your mobile app development project. Here is the list of various features that affect the total app budget. With it, you’ll have a much clearer answer to the question, “How much does it cost to make an app?”

Push Notifications

These are an essential part of any successful app, which helps to keep users engaged. Adding basic push notifications costs between $1,500 and $2,500. And the final price of feature implementation depends on different aspects, such as the logic behind notifications, the presence of custom elements, or 3D Touch technology.

User Profile and Social Login

Implementing a user profile in an application costs around $2,400. Social login buttons, which allow users to sign up or authenticate with their existing Apple, Google, or Facebook accounts, typically cost $500 per social network.

Localization and Multi-Language Support

Applications that target users from different countries should be multilingual. This is a basic function for gaming apps or fitness apps. Localization and multi-language support features add to your software development cost an additional $500+.


Like other features, the cost of implementing a chat in an application varies depending on various factors: app complexity, the platform, development approach, outsourcing mobile app development or hiring an in-house team, etc. The development of a custom chat module can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. But using a third-party chat SDK may decrease the final cost, as its approximate price is $2,400.

Related reading: Fintech App Development Cost

Hidden App Development Costs

The answer to the question “How much does it cost to build a mobile app?” would be incomplete without post-development expenses. They can vary depending on the app complexity and the requirements of the specific project. The total cost of a mobile app development may also include the following expenses:

  • cloud hosting services and infrastructure costs;
  • customer support and service;
  • licensing;
  • scaling and expansion;
  • engagement and marketing;
  • app maintenance costs.

Let’s look at the last two points in more detail, as they comprise a significant part of the app development budget.

App Marketing Budget

As the app development process is done, it’s time to submit it to the App Store or Google Play. At this stage, companies face two challenges – to reach and retain target users on the scale. Ideally, the mobile app marketing cost should be 2 to 3 times the initial development price. For example, if the app development cost is $100,000, your annual budget for marketing expenses should be approximately $200,000 to $300,000. However, at least $10,000 should be allocated to the go-to-market strategy. And it would be best to plan these costs right from the start.

App marketing budget includes:

  • social networking;
  • search engine ads;
  • sales funnels;
  • the creation of landing pages;
  • copywriting and PR outreach;
  • app reviews;
  • customer relationship management tools, etc.

App Maintenance Budget

After the product is released on app stores, its lifecycle is just beginning. In addition to marketing campaigns, the application requires additional expenses to remain accessible for users. Moreover, the fast-moving mobile market is constantly changing, and your app needs to address all trends to stay competitive. It is recommended to regularly update the application at least once a month or even more frequently.

App maintenance costs include cloud hosting services, infrastructure, performance monitoring, updating, and support. And it is roughly 15-20% of its original development cost. For example, the cost of an app hosting web server starts from $100 a month. But these expense item directly depends on the app size, complexity, and the type of data the application deals with. Media-rich app requires a higher CPU web server with more RAM and disk space than a text-based one without multimedia elements.

Ongoing maintenance is an important aspect, which requires additional resources to keep the application functioning properly. The cost of app updates, bug fixing, and adding new features is determined by the hourly rate of mobile app developers or the expenses associated with software tools and services. For instance, bug fixing in a single line of code might range from $25 to $50, whereas enhancing the application’s functionality may take up to a week and cost from $7,000.

App analytics monitoring is also essential. Its goal is to track and analyze user behaviour, identify trends, and optimize the user experience. Investing in platforms like Google Analytics is necessary for effective mobile app monitoring, as they provide critical insights such as user engagement, average app usage time, retention and conversion rates, traffic sources, and more.

Summing Up

After reviewing all the key factors app development cost depends on, you can finally calculate the approximate price for your app idea. First, it is necessary to consider the location of the app development team you want to hire, the complexity and the type of your application, its core features, and the industry in which your business operates. Certainly, developing an app for multiple platforms at once is much more cost-effective than the native approach. Then add other after-release expenses on marketing and maintenance. However, only an outsourcing company can calculate your project’s exact app development price.

Limestone Digital will become your reliable and experienced app development partner. Our specialists have expertise in fintech, IoT, logistics, healthcare, and many other industries. We collaborate with small businesses and large enterprises and build applications of any complexity. For example, the cost of a simple app with few features for startups can vary between $20,000 and $600,000. Want to know the price of the custom app development considering the features of your project? Contact us by applying a form or via chat. Let’s work on your app’s success together!

By: Julia Nasy
21 Jul. 2023
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