How much does it cost to make an app? A detailed guide to mobile app development cost in 2024

How much does it cost to make an app? A detailed guide to mobile app development cost in 2024

In this day and age, there is rarely a person who does not use a smartphone and along with it mobile apps. Nowadays, mobile apps are everywhere and they make our lives in many different ways. The most common application types are lifestyle -  like fitness, dating, food, music, travel (Spotify, Uber), social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), utility (reminders, calculator, flashlight), games and entertainment (Angry Birds), productivity (Docs, Sheets, Wallet/Pay), and news (Buzzfeed, Reddit, Google News & Weather). 

We cannot picture ourselves without checking Facebook or Instagram for updates from our friends or watching videos on our TikTok for your page. Maybe you need some light when it’s dark, so you’ll use the flashlight app. We bet one of our readers has Google Docs open right now and is working on their project. All these apps have different levels of complexity while developing and that is one of the aspects of how one can measure the mobile app development cost.


Why Do You Need to Develop an App?


Apps are a vital part of our lives and we need them on a daily basis. They make our lives easier and more comfortable. For example, if you own a business like a restaurant it is beneficial to have an app for your services which will raise the demand and trust for your product.


Having only web apps that you access through a browser will cause inconveniences for the users and their experience might not be as smooth as intended. This is the reason one needs to have an app because it will help attract users and maintain and increase their number. 




The mobile app and software development cost depends on their functionality and purpose. The harder and more complex the app, the more it will cost to develop because more resources and workforce are necessary. The complexity of the app depends on its functionality and what they are used for. There are nine different types of apps based on functionality:


  • simple/basic

  • social media

  • marketplace 

  • date-driven 

  • on-demand 

  • IoT and Hardware

  • authentication 

  • e-commerce 

  • games


Utility apps can be considered to have simple or basic functionality because they help users complete simple tasks on their devices. Such apps are the calculator, flashlight, file management, and device maintenance which usually do not need an internet connection to function.

Those apps can cost $10,000 to $40,000 to develop in 2024. Social media or e-commerce apps have medium complexity to develop and those kinds of apps usually can cost $30,000 to $500,000.


Detailed or highly complex apps which will need authentication and internet access can cost more ranging from $30,000 to $500,000. Banking apps can be considered authentication apps since they require a special login which is supposed to be super secure and thus, more complex to develop.


The mobile app and software development costs may differ based on the country of origin as well. Here is a table about different types of apps developed by an agency with US-based management and a distributed film.


mobile app development

There is a distinctive difference between the costs of an agency with a US-based management and an actual US-based agency. The costs are displayed in the table below. 

app development company


Some of the examples of offline standalone apps are simple apps like the calculator or the flashlight. The Internet of Things or IoT app connects machines to other machines, as well as people. The main purpose of it is to link the physical to the digital.

Some of the IoT apps are Microsoft Power BI, Google Nest, Virtuino IoT, and many more. Those are more complex to develop than standalone apps that’s why they cost more.


Messaging apps can be more complex, hence the cost. Their cost depends on several factors such as design complexity, technical complexity, and supported platforms. It also depends on the development vendor’s location. For example, the average development hourly rate in the USA and Canada is $150-$250, in Eastern Europe is $50-$150, in Western Europe and the UK is $100-$250, in Australia $80-$200, and in India $20-$80.


In 2024 Simple virtual reality (VR) apps can cost $3000-$9000 the lowest and $90,000-$150,000 the highest. While augmented reality (AR) apps can cost $10,000 to $200,000.


Some of the on-demand apps are package delivery, food and grocery delivery, and delivery for retailers apps. The most common features of on-demand apps are instant access, a high degree of control, and in-app payments. An example of this type of app can be Uber. The average cost of an on-demand app is $91,000. 


Mobile Commerce or m-commerce is a mobile platform for users to purchase and sell products. M-commerce is a subsection of e-commerce where users can access the platform without a desktop and can be easily accessible through a mobile app. M-commerce apps are quite recognizable such as Amazon, Shein, eBay, and so on.

Native m-commerce apps on Android or iOS cost from $50,000 to $100,000. A simple social networking app will cost $45,000-$150,000, a medium-complexity one $150,000-$300,000, and complex ones $300,000 and more. 


Mobile App Development Stages and Their Costs


The main known app types are web apps and mobile apps. Of course, both are widely used but one cannot oversee the fact that mobile apps dominate the app industry because they come in handy (no wonder “handy” in German means “phone”) and are more practical compared to web apps since the latter is accessed through a browser while the mobile app stands by itself. 


So, here are the main steps of app development: preparation, design, development, project management, quality assurance and testing, deployment and maintenance.


Strategy and Planning 


The first part of the preparation stage is ideation and discovery. It is basically the skeleton of mobile app development. This is where it all starts and everything is based on it. 

During the ideation and discovery stage stakeholders, including industry experts, customers, developers, and salespeople put down ideas of what the main features of the app are, what’s the main purpose of the app, who’re the end-users, and so on.


Sometimes the clients require more guidance about what they need in the app and the developers are there to help them develop (pun intended) the idea. The main tasks during ideation and discovery are surveys, interviews, and competitor analysis. Ideation and discovery is probably the least costly stage of app development since it is the initial phase and is only idea generation. However, it does not mean it costs $0.

It can cost $0 if it’s not done after hours. Otherwise, the price will be approximately $10,000. 


Sometimes this stage requires business analysis which will round up the entire cost of the phase from $1,200 to $11,000. Business analysts define if the goal of the clients is achievable to coders, following the best and most acceptable practices, and decide on the technology stack. So, the main cost of preparation is overall $0-$11,000. 


Discovery Phase and Design


The average price for a mobile app design can range from $3,000 to $30,000. The mobile app and software development cost usually depends on the complexity of the app and this is equivalent to the product idea. All of it is defined by the number of features, screens, roles, and visual design.


A simple app design will approximately cost $3,000, an average one $12,000, and complex ones $30,000. However, 2024 is the year when artificial intelligence and machine learning are at their peak and some of the back-end work like design can be processed by these and it will cost a lot cheaper compared to an actual app development. 


The cost of the design stage also depends on the team type. The complexity of the app aside, it is important to consider the development team. The average size app development with 300 design hours executed by an in-house team will cost $36,000.

If you’re hiring a local design agency it will cost $48,000, while an outsourcing agency will charge $12,000. Freelancers are the least costly and will sell their services for $6,000. 

The design price also depends on the team's location. You can see the table for the mentioned statistic below. 


mobile development cost 2024


There are other factors that will define the price of your design.

One of these is the design type. If you are opting for custom design this means that you have to refrain from pre-made design libraries and instead create User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) from scratch.

This has its pros and cons.

Pros are the unique customized design and reflection of the brand, while the cons are overall cost and the quality depending on the cost per designer, meaning that the more professional and detail-oriented the designer, the more costly the process. Most of the well-known apps have custom designs such as Uber, Tinder or Airbnb. 

Almost 70% of the design budget is directed toward User Experience (UX) and here is why. UX is the stage that will show you the functionality or the operating style of your app. Apart from this UX also meets user objectives. So it is quite a crucial stage of the entire mobile app development process.

Some of the process details are user research, mind mapping, low-fidelity, and high-fidelity prototypes. While UX is responsible for how the app feels, User Interface (UI) defines how the app looks. It has four main components which are the color scheme, UI kit, icons and logo, and animations. 




The coding and development part probably is the most important factor in the app development process. It makes up 50%-70% of the entire mobile app development cost. There are several estimates of the cost of this phase.

Some sources state that the approximate cost is $35,000-$70,000. This depends on the app type, existing codebase, backend need, and scalability. The estimated amount of time spent on the coding depends on the app type; chatbox app or an e-commerce app.

Sometimes the app can use an existing codebase for development and sometimes it is developed from scratch and this affects the cost greatly. However, the existing codebase has its downsides as well. For example, it might be written inexpertly and developers need a lot of correcting and it will be easier to start writing it from scratch instead. 


This is the phase when the application architecture, data encryption, storage, userbase, and third-party integration are the main focuses of the development part. You can reduce the costs of mobile app development if you opt for cross-platform app development frameworks.

A cross-platform, or multiplatform frameworks allow the creation of apps that run similarly on different mobile platforms.


This means that the apps are developed for all platforms and for all operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows). Those are the types of apps Esterox specializes in developing, so you’ve come to the right place.

 Instead of building native apps for each platform you build one cross-platform app which will save you time and money. With this approach in the estimated timeline of 2-6 months, the cross-platform app development will cost $3,000-$60,000.


Apart from implementing cross-platform frameworks to reduce costs, it is also advisable to choose a development team that offers agile app development which is all about the phase of the development process.

Agile app development has a cycle which is usually a one-week or two-week development process, then discussion of the work, its achievements, and improvements necessary to make. It is also recommended not to support older OS versions if you’re not sure you’ll have to cover them. 


Project Management 


Of course, without product management, it is not possible to start and finish the mobile app or software development.

Project management covers all the aspects and phases of the development process and the management of it.


The cost of project management can range from $1,200 to $12,000. How to reduce the budget of project management, then? Do not! The project manager is the one who makes the project a reality and you should never cut costs for this.


Project management cost also depends on the OS, region, and cross-platform. It also covers app store optimization (ASO) or as they call it app store SEO which is in charge of making the app visible in app stores, hence the downloads. You can see the statistics below.


Quality Assurance and Testing


During the entire mobile app and software development process, quality assurance is an ever-present and integral part which will help you to launch the app with minimal or no bugs.

Of course, it is important to see how your app is going to function once it’s out and this is why you need quality assurance and testing. Quality assurance (QA) engineers are the ones making this possible. Usually, their rate is $35-$50 per hour. The aspects of the app they test are:


  • documentation 

  • design

  • app performance


It is up to the QA engineers to determine whether the app can be launched or not or if it needs additional work. The price QA engineers will charge also depends on their work experience.  


Overall, basic apps (minimum feature set, 1 platform) will cost $18,000 for QA, full products (more features and design of larger complexity, 2 platforms) $44,000, and large apps (complex app design, development, and support, 2 platforms) $70,000. There are four main categories of testing costs; prevention, detection, internal failure, and external failure. Moreover, there are eight main cost drivers in this phase:


  • testing team size and composition

  • type of testing

  • coverage and complexity

  • defect management and resolution

  • test environment

  • testing tools

  • testing infrastructure 

  • scope creep and changing requirements



There are also several elements which raise the cost of testing:



  • code revision

  • system recovery

  • error resolution costs

  • data re-entry

  • operational downtime

  • error tracing

  • iterative testing



So, how can you minimize the costs of testing?



  • early and frequent testing

  • implement Test-Driven Development (TDD)

  • employ a hyper-testing strategy

  • leverage modern tools for UI testing

  • adopt risk-based testing

  • utilize reusable training materials

  • account for hidden costs

  • consider outsourcing


Deployment and Maintenance


Once the app is deployed it is crucial to maintain it and that is the 15%-20% of the entire mobile app development cost. Here is a brief overview of the aspects affecting the maintenance cost.


app development price



Although marketing is an optional step and not every company implements it, It is also important to promote your app and make it known to the target audience and this costs money as well. Here is a table about the marketing costs:


app development cost




Thus, the overall cost of developing in 2024 depends on several aspects. The region is one of the main aspects because it really defines the costs. Coding is the most expensive phase of mobile app development. The costs are also directed toward design (UX/UI), app testing, and maintenance as well as the initial research and brainstorming process. Last but not least to promote the app you need to implement some marketing strategies which have their unique price list.

Esterox specializes in cross-platform app development which is a package deal with us. We provide services such as custom app design, user experience, integration with backend systems, maintenance and updates, and more.

You can be confident that we will tailor your app and software based on your requirements. During the entire development process our project managers will oversee the workflow and our quality assurance specialists will make sure there are no bugs and inconveniences in the app.

Of course, we will see that your app has the best design and user experience and hence we provide the services of UI/UX as well. You do not have to worry about the maintenance of the app either because we will be there with you to keep the app running. This is why you can choose Esterox because it’s a whole package and will complete all the necessary tasks to develop your app for you.