Step by Step Guide to Determine the Cost of a Mobile App

Step by Step Guide to Determine the Cost of a Mobile App

Chhavi Firani 11/06/2018 5

Estimating the project costs for a mobile app is not that straightforward. Especially, when you’re the CEO and not the developer. A Mobile App is built on a number of key factors that influence its development time period and consequently, costs. These factors are determined by the following questions:

What is the purpose of your app?

How many complex tasks could it perform?

Is it exlusive to Android, iOS, or both?

And so on...

It’s hard to guess the costs just by answering these questions, hence, here is a step by step guide that will help you get a better understanding of the mobile app development cycle and how each step influences the cost.


For most business owners looking to get a mobile app developed, the app is just an idea and not an SRS document. They don’t know what should go into the app, how will the app work or is the idea logically implementable. They only have a vision to share with the developer and at this point, it’s necessary to understand the implication of each step as we explore the cost factors. 

1. Platform

Estimated Step Value: $500 - $4000

Significance: The platform on which the app is built determines what kind of mobile OS will the app support and how complex tasks will it perform. You must have a mobile phone running either Android, iOS or Windows platform. You can get the App to run on only one OS or all.      

If you need an app that carries out a number of activities and requires best-in-class performance, you will need Native Mobile App Development. Native Apps are built on native platform languages and are sturdy in nature. Facebook App is a nice example of a Native App. They are built separately for each OS.

Hybrid App Development on the other hand, allows simpler apps to be quickly developed with lesser costs and cross platform support. They run on all the three platforms and can easily run basic tasks without much performance loss. Instagram is a Native App per se. 

2. Design

Estimated Step Value: $200 - $1000

Significance: The UI Design is an important aspect of your app and in this step, you have to decide how aesthetic do you want the app to look like. You have options of picking up a ready-made UI template or get a custom UI developed. You also dictate extra UI features such as animations.

Ready-made UI templates are a great way to quickly give your app a uniformly themed design, where you can try out multiple options before you raise the green flag. The templates come with their limitations.

Customizing the UI as per your own taste is a costly affair but will make the app look like just as you’d imagine. Further, the number of screens, the in-app transitions and gaming features will also influence the costs.     

3. Security

Estimated Step Value: $0 - $1200

Significance: Although securing your App is a reasonably important factor, it can be use case specific. Some apps can completely do without security, while for others it’s inevitable. How much security does your app need?

If your app needs some sort of social login or saves any form of user’s sensitive data, security measures are a must. They can vary from basic security level to complete encryption, and the costs rise likewise.

For an App that just requires a Facebook login, costs won’t be much, but if it requires two-factor authentication or SSL certificates, the stakes will be much higher. Usually, banking apps and e-wallets require such strong security.   

4. Database and Integrations

Estimated Step Value: $500 - $1200

Significance: Apps can’t run without a database in place and these databases are influenced by what kind of 3rd party integrations you’ve asked for. Creating a new database is costlier than modifying an existing one while with each extra integration that needs database access, the cost multiplies.

MySQL, MongoDB are common database technologies that your app would need. If you have a company cloud infrastructure in place, the overheads of running an app on it won’t be much, but if you need to get a new one, the costs will rise.

Additionally, if you want your app to integrate with 3rd party services that enable Location, e-commerce, media library or social network features, the costs will add up differently.

5. Administration

Estimated Step Value: $1000 - $2800

Significance: The last point of concern is how you will control your app’s content. If you have a marketing app, it will need a CMS, similarly, you might need analytics support and notification control. These features are essential if you wish to have a dynamic control over the app.

Simpler apps that are built to provide a single utility to the users such as a calculator or a photo editor won’t need extensive admin panels but if you’re creating an app for online Food Ordering Service or something that needs several users to signup (including your employees), the design costs will be much higher.

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  • Danny Hayes


  • Ahmed Zayed

    Thanks for the tips

  • Connie Townley

    Great. Thank you very much. Useful article for me as a novice.

  • Kyle Williams

    Developing a mobile app is no joke! It involves some serious way of thinking.

  • John Rimington

    Very clear and well explained.

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Chhavi Firani

Tech Expert

Chhavi is the Founder and Partner at Dikonia. She is passionate about delivering beyond expectations and crafting rewarding experiences.  Her company provides innovative IT solutions including custom SaaS offerings that streamline workflow as well as development and design services in keeping with latest buying and market trends. Chhavi holds a Master of Computer Applications from Punjabi University.

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