How much does it cost to make an iOS app? It seems like a question easy to answer, doesn’t it? Everything has a price tag and mobile apps have been called ‘products’ for a long time now. Why is it so hard to establish the cost of developing an iOS app in a single estimate? Because simply: “it depends.”
According to the State of Mobile 2019 report, mobile-focused companies had a combined $544B valuation, 6.5x higher compared to companies without a mobile focus.
At the same time, mobile seems to be our to-go device, capturing 3 hrs 40 minutes of our attention per day in 2019, 35% more time than spent in 2 years prior. And most of that time is spent in apps, obviously. These seem like strong indicators that mobile apps are essential to succeed with customers in 2020 and beyond.
No wonder then that “how much does it cost to build an app?” is one of the most often searched questions on the internet, as far as attempting to create an iOS app is concerned with a global volume search of over 2.3K monthly (source: Semrush). Mobile has become an essential part of business, from areas of e-commerce to iOS app startups.
While trying to answer the question of how much it costs to build an app, you may notice that internet queries often result in many websites that claim to estimate mobile app development costs. But, like most things in life, this is far too simple to be true. These cost calculators are meant only to attract your attention. Equipped with brief and generic questions, they will provide you with neither the true cost of developing an iOS (or any other) app nor even a rough estimate.
You may also find answers saying that “the cost to develop an app ranges from just $5,000 to $100,000 based on up-to-date industry surveys.” But that’s not very helpful, is it?
So how much does it cost?
Truth is, there’s no easy answer.
As there is no such thing as a universal price list of mobile app development, it’s unreasonable to expect a software house to provide the precise and exact cost of developing your application upfront. But the iOS team of the app development company of your choice will try to estimate the number of hours needed for the implementation of all app specifications and requirements.
And then, after presenting your concept and reaching a mutual agreement, they will try to build the app matching up with the estimated time and available resources. But this is a-whole-nother story.
Not to mention one obvious yet easily forgotten fact: the app development is only the beginning. What you also have to look at and take into consideration while trying to estimate how much it will cost to build your iOS app is deployment and maintenance. Don’t let it surprise you as a hidden cost you weren’t prepared for.
What affects mobile application development costs?
It is your app concept that influences development costs. Although cost estimation itself may be tricky, there are a few relatively constant factors that influence the cost of mobile app development. These being:
- the platforms you want your app to be available on
- the complexity of functions and features your app will have
- the level of UI and design sophistication
- the backend infrastructure needed for your app to run
- the size of the iOS development team and their location
You want to create an iOS app, but you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to make it for Android as well? While choosing the platform your application will run on, you probably have to take iOS and Android market share into consideration and, of course, your budget limitations.
Although the cost of developing an iOS app does not differ much from creating an app for Android, as long as you pick only one of these, the situation gets more complicated and expensive when you’d like to have both. They require different programming languages and use different and varied development tools.
Also, since the development of apps for these two platforms differs greatly, you will need to prepare to hire two different development teams and, basically, double the cost of app creation.
If having your app available on both iOS and Android platforms is an absolute necessity, though, a solution could be hybrid app development.
Features and app structure determine whether the app is considered to be ‘basic,’ ‘medium’ or ‘large’. For example, applications available on 2 platforms, with many features and support, will be the large ones. Whereas a simple product with only core features is described as a basic app.
App functionality as well as the number and complexity of features are one of the biggest cost generators. Trying to predict how much it costs to build the iOS app you have in mind, you need to know or work out how complex it is going to be.
All features like screens, buttons, fields, integrations, and logics required to create it will affect the time and money spent on app development. Some features are considered ‘basic’ while others have been categorized as more ‘complex.’ But this distinction is also not very helpful when it comes to answering the question of how much does it cost to build an app.
For instance, quite a basic feature like simple messaging takes up to 170 hrs of work, and based on a $70 per hour price, could cost $11,900. At the same time, something considered to be a far more complex feature, such as payments, may need only 60 hours to be completed and might cost only $4,200.
UI And Design
To attempt an estimation of your iOS app design, you have to know its complexity. It all depends on very detailed specifications: how many screens will the app have, whether you choose the native design or go for a custom design, and many other factors.
Design is a crucial part of an app’s development. While choosing a user interface for your app, you can go either way. A native design uses ready templates and UI elements designed for iOS or Android. There are libraries full of many patterns and solutions where you can pick and choose what’s right for you. While custom design requires a unique architecture of each element.
There are types of apps where a custom design might be necessary. Typically, this is more expensive, as it needs to be made from scratch and requires additional work hours. Native designs, meanwhile, can accelerate the building process and lower the cost of app development, because designers can use templates and ready-made designs. There are many pros and cons behind each approach, but the course of development should be aligned with the primary type of your iOS application and the purpose it’s meant to serve.
Backend is software run on a server that allows the app to communicate with an external data source. If your app has features that require syncing with the internet (e.g. user accounts, tracking progress linked to an account, uploading data like images, text, etc.) this usually means that you need a backend as well.
There are alternatives to building your own backend and maintaining your own server but these, usually, have limited capabilities and are more expensive in the long run due to monthly payments.
IOS Development Team
Last but definitely not least – the people working on your product. The size of the iOS team will influence the cost. There are roles that are absolutely necessary for the whole process, such as mobile app engineer and QA engineer. If you rely on an outsourcing agency, a business analyst and a project manager might also be essential for the planning and execution phases of app development, respectively.
The location of the team also matters. The average cost of app development varies depending on the hourly rates in the chosen world region. The region considered to be the most expensive is definitely North America. The price range of iOS app development there is $150 per hour. Eastern European and UK developers tend to charge from $40 up to $70 per hour, while the highest cost for app development taking place in Indonesia is approximately $10 per hour.
Such significant cost divergence is an issue that should be investigated wisely and carefully.
The hourly price range is not the only factor that should be considered as far as iOS development team remuneration is concerned. The pace of their work is also very important here. One developer’s hourly rate might be relatively low, but the overall cost of his work is higher due to their work tempo, the longer it takes, the more expensive it becomes.
So, if you make the right choice, not only does your iOS app have the chance to be developed quicker, it can also cost you less in the end. App development duration estimation and ETA are as important as the money itself.
Where to begin to find out how much it’ll cost to build your iOS app?
Your iOS mobile app architecture is the first thing you have to know and understand. It might be useful to know the app development process from start to finish. Then, the choice of the right iOS team would be a strategic move.