How much does it cost to develop an app: defining core features

The cost of developing an app may involve many factors. No mobile app development team can give you a precise mobile app development cost estimate without knowing the main factors of your mobile app, such as app business logic, features, development team location and composition, and so on. 

However, if you have an idea about your app functionality, you can find the costs to develop app features below. Moreover, in this article you will find tips on app MVP features prioritization and development costs depending on an app's complexity. 

 But firstly, let’s find out the main steps for estimating your mobile app's costs. 

How to estimate the average cost of creating an app in five steps

Step 1. Ask a mobile app development team for a quote

To receive a precise mobile app cost estimate, get in touch with a mobile app development team.

Step 2. Select the number of mobile platforms

To provide you with a mobile app cost estimation, developers need to know whether you want to build an app for iOS, Android, or both platforms. 

Step 3. Create a list with app functionality 

To reflect your business idea, mobile developers and business analysts will create a list of necessary features for your mobile app. 

Step 4. Prioritize mobile app features to implement in MVP

Ask mobile developers to prioritize only those core features from the main list to validate your business idea.  

Step 5. Ask the development team to estimate your app's main features 

Ask mobile app developers to evaluate a list with must-have features they will implement first and get a precise mobile app development estimated cost. 

 

To estimate the cost to build an app, use our project cost calculator.

You can also hire our management team which includes dedicated project managers, business analysts, quality assurance engineers, designers, and developers.

Mobile app cost estimation: core features

Understandably, the more features you want to implement to your mobile app, the more time the dev team needs to create them. 

Below we have gathered a table with mobile app essential features, tech stack, and the estimated number of hours to give you a clear picture of how much time and money you will need. 

Feature

Description

Tech stack

Number of hours 

User login

To identify the user, most mobile apps provide users with registration via email or phone number. However, the most convenient way to access an app, automatically creates a user profile and collects all public data about a person using a sign in through social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

4+ hours for UI/UX design

8+ hours to develop the app back-end using NodeJS

8+ hours for feature integration per each platform (iOS, Android)

Push notification

Mobile apps use push notifications to inform users about the real-time updates in the app, such as changes in order status, new content or new messages received, and so on.  

  • Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) for Android mobile apps 
  • Apple Push Notification Service (APNS) for iOS  

On average, the team will spend 24+ hours integrating this function to iOS apps and the same amount of hours to add it to Android apps. 

Navigation bar

To allow the user to flow through your app features and content, you will need a navigation bar. This feature also defines how the user switches from one screen to another, returns to the main menu, closes an app, takes actions, etc. Thus, your app must include swiping and scrolling features, icons, buttons, arrows, and other UI architecture. 

  • Human Interface Guidelines

From 24+ hours for the app back-end 

From 16+ hours for Android or iOS development. 

Media content sharing

If you develop a social media app like Tik-Tok, or messaging app like WhatsApp, you need to allow users to share media files, such as images, short videos, or audio files. You may also need to empower your app with editing capabilities, including adding emoticons, filters, effects, or even animated masks.  

 

  • Android NDK Native APIs for Android apps 
  • Core Audio Kit for audio exchange, PhotoKit for photo editing, and AVKit for media playback on iOS devices 

From 8+ hours for the design

From 16+ hours for the front-end

From 40+ hours for the back-end 

From 40+ to develop this function on each mobile platform 

Geolocation 

This mobile app feature might be handy, not only for geolocation or navigation apps, but also for food delivery mobile applications, taxi, dating, or even travel apps.

  • Google Maps API

8+ hours for the design

8+ hours for back-end

8+ hours for Android and the same among of hours for iOS apps

In-app messaging

If you consider developing an online retail marketplace, social media, real estate, or accommodation booking app, you need a built-in messaging platform. 

  • Facebook API
  • Telegram API

From 40+ hours to develop the messaging platform back-end

From 20+ hours to integrate messaging feature to Android or iOS app. 

Database 

Integrate database to your mobile e-commerce app to show the number of items available, travel, or real estate app to inform users about available offers. Database integration is essential for building database-powered applications, data synchronization, and offline mobile app capabilities. In this way, you will reduce the app size, query processing time, and memory usage. 

10+ hours for back-end 

From 8 hours per Android or iOS platform 

Besides this, do not forget to estimate the following mobile app development costs:

  • Back-end architecture development: from 20+ hour 
  • Environment Setup: from 24+ hours 
  • Design: from 160+ hours 
  • QA: from 120+ hours 
  • Bug Fix: from 60+ hours
  • Project Management: from 100+ hours 
  • Project Documentation: from 30+ hours

How much does an app cost? In a nutshell, the development cost of building a simple app starts somewhere between $20-30K. Still, you can reduce this cost drastically by prioritizing features to implement to your mobile app Minimum viable product. How to do that? Let’s find out. 

Now, let’s find out how much will the app development cost vary due to app complexity. 

Cost to develop a mobile app: simple, medium, complex

To show you how mobile app features and the development cost vary due to app complexity, we split mobile apps into the following categories and added the estimated time in hours.

Simple

  • No API integration
  • No back-end
  • Basic UI components
  • Simple features (email subscription, social login, calendar, etc.)

From 400+ hours

Moderate

  • Custom UI/UX features
  • Build-in payment gateway
  • API integration
  • Back-end server

From 500-800+ hours

Complex

  • Multi-language support 
  • 3rd-party integrations
  • Custom animations 
  • Complicated back-end
  • Custom UI/UX design
  • Real-time features via database integration

 

800-1500 + hours

Apart from the app's complexity, the hourly developer rate significantly impacts the cost of developing a mobile app. The cost of one hour of mobile app developer work varies across the globe: 

  • North America (the US and Canada) is the most expensive region since the Android / iOS developers charge from $20 to $250 per hour
  • Australian mobile app developers have a slightly lower cost per hour: $35-150
  • Eastern European mobile app developers charge something between $20 -$110 per hour
  • Developers in Eastern Europe charge from $30 to $140 per hour

How to prioritize MVP features for your app in three steps 

Step 1. Identify your product vision

To achieve this, you need to define: 

  • The primary purpose of your mobile app, i.e., ways it improves the user’s life.
  • Target user profiles with a detailed description, including age, location, job, etc.
  • Long-term success metrics. These may be high conversions for e-commerce apps, the number of active users for social media apps, the number of premium subscribers for music streaming apps, etc. 

Step 2. Prioritize the MVP features

Now, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What are the mobile app's user needs?
  • What value does your mobile app deliver?
  • What features do not add value to your product?
  • Do you have any portal for feedback?

Find the most effective ways of MVP feature prioritization below. 

MoSCoW method that stands for – Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have. To receive a clear idea about your core app's functionality, segregate the features for your app into these four categories. To understand these categories clearly, take a look at the image below. 

 app features prioritization

Kano Method is popular to show various stages of mobile app development using graphic representation. In this way you can create a qualitative analysis for your app's features by dividing them into the following categories - one-dimensional quality, must-be quality, indifferent quality, attractive quality, and reverse quality. 

With this method, you will see how mobile app features attribute to change over time. The image below includes changes that take place due to customer satisfaction, recorded performance level, and other metrics. 

 Kano Methods for project features prioritization

[Source: Pinterest]

Step 3. Adjusting Your Plan Post-MVP

During this stage, you and your development team will create a list of Should have, Could have features to implement next. You can change the list with those features due to key performance indicators, user feedback on the app MVP, tracked user behavior patterns, and so on. 

So, how much does it cost to develop an app?

The “How much an app costs” question does not have a one size fits all answer since every mobile app has a unique business goal aimed at solving problems, and targeted to particular users. Besides this, different applications need a specific amount of space on mobile devices, use different third-party integration, and provide access to varying amounts of data. 

Apart from the app's complexity, you need to take into account the developer's location, since the hourly mobile app developer rate varies drastically. 

Our related articles:

HOW TO ESTIMATE BASIC EXPENSES FOR ANDROID OR IOS APP DEVELOPMENT  

Ready to estimate your app cost?

Estimate now

 
Valerii Filipets

Developer