A Straightforward App Development Cost Breakdown

By Ryan Vice | Posted on March 24, 2021


Between the Apple App Store and the Android Play Store, there are 5 million apps available for download, and more are joining every day. For an app to stand out among the masses, it has to be the first of its kind, the best of its kind, or the easiest version to utilize. Of course, innovation comes at a price, and the more you want from an app, the heftier the price tag will become. 

The cost of app development has steadily crept up over the years, but not for one reason in particular. The driver of these growing prices is multifaceted; more hosting platforms have reached the mainstream, more features have become available, and impeccable quality is now expected from an app. Naturally, the costs of development must rise to meet the increasing demands of consumers, look into improving efficiency in your business

The exact price of development is impacted by hundreds of factors, so there is no solid answer to how much an app will cost…it depends. Regardless, if you have the resources, and you’re wondering if creating an app is worth the effort, it probably is. In the age of social media, instant messaging, and toddlers with smartphones, the best way to reach your audience may very well be through our modern-day bazaar, the app store, and that’s why you need to have a good management in your business and the use of check stubs can be really useful to handle payments and more.

Where Do These Costs Come From?

Functionality And Purpose

The first thing to consider in an app development cost breakdown is the functionality of the app itself. A simple stopwatch app requires far fewer resources to develop than full-fledged project management software, and those resources will be reflected in the price. 

A huge factor in functionality costs is how extensive the backend development is. This area of software development is how the app communicates with external sources, such as the internet and databases. Backend development lets an app perform remote tasks behind-the-scenes that the frontend can’t handle. In a play, the front-end development would be the actors, and the backend development would be the AV/set crew, manning the lights and soundtrack from behind the curtain and ensuring that the play runs smoothly. 

Though we don’t see backend development directly, its intricacies require a highly skilled coder with a wide range of experience. The more complex the backend is, the more expensive the app will be to build glitch-free. 

Platforms And Devices That Will Be Supported

Another major influence on the app development cost breakdown is the platforms and devices the application will support. Though the costs of developing iOS and Android apps are fairly similar, how they are developed is not. Apple and Android work best with different coding languages and tools, so while the end results may appear virtually identical, you are essentially building two separate apps. Luckily, this issue has been around for a long time, and we’ve already found one solution: hybrid apps. Hybrid development uses both HTML and JavaScript to create an app that works across platforms; basically, it’s a website displayed as an app. 

Though hybrid apps do have their benefits (wider reach, cheaper development, etc.), they aren’t the end all be all of software. Despite improvements in hybrid development, native apps, those designed specifically for one operating system, still win in terms of function. Since native apps are tailored to the ecosystem they are used in, they load faster, look better, and tend to be more intuitive. 

Another consideration is the actual devices using your app. A great user experience is only possible with a seamless transition from device to device, and according to the Statista Research Department, “the average (U.S.) American [has] access to more than ten connected devices in their household.” An excellent desktop app isn’t necessarily an excellent mobile app, and the same holds true in the other direction. Since most people rely on multiple gadgets throughout the day, you’ll want to make sure the app is fully functional everywhere it needs to be. 

Application Integrations

Integrations are how independent apps work together. A common integration with business applications is project management software, which allows an action in one application to trigger an action in another, automating repetitive tasks. Another common integration, one you’ve likely seen a bit too much of, is with social media. 

When the 3rd party you’re integrated with updates their API, you may have to update your application as well to continue using it, which could incur additional costs. Even though integrations add to the app development cost breakdown upfront, they are often worth the investment. To start, integrations provide a seamless transition between your app and the apps people already know, leading to a better user experience. Integrations also let you utilize features without having to build them yourself; while integrations cost a bit more at the start, you save on all of the functionality that comes along with them.   

Use Of Device Hardware Features

All mobile applications make use of the device they are on, but not all apps use the device to the same extent. Software that relies on smartphone hardware features, such as GPS navigation, motion detectors, microphones, and cameras, will likely cost a little more to build. 

That being said, using device hardware features, when appropriate, is usually worth the additional costs. Like integrations, they allow users to seamlessly move between features without having to switch apps. 

The Complexity of UX

The complexity of the UX design plays a major role in the app development cost breakdown. Native designs tend to take less effort than their custom counterparts simply because they can use pre-made templates and UI elements. There are numerous libraries stocked full of ready-to-go iOS and Android patterns, so UX designers can pick out the elements they want instead of building them from the ground up. 

Any UX ‘wow’ factors will likely incur additional costs as well. Elements such as videos, animations, transitions, and 3-dimensional graphics take more time to create, especially if the design is tailor-made to your company. The trick is finding the right balance between exciting elements and price, and that balance will depend heavily on the budget and purpose of the app.

Continuing Maintenance 

An app is never done, and that reality needs to be factored into your overall app development cost breakdown. As technology evolves, we gain access to more and more opportunities to improve – as does our competition. To stay competitive, it’s important to keep apps up to date and make the most of the technology available. Even a seemingly small hitch, such as slow loading speed, can be a deal-breaker for consumers if another way to accomplish the same goal exists. 

The cost of maintenance can vary greatly depending on the app. If you start with the minimum viable product (MVP), maintenance may have a larger impact on cost, especially in the beginning, as you add on new features to your existing app. Maintenance costs can also increase if frequent debugging is necessary, which could indicate that the app was built poorly from the get-go. 

The App Development Cost Breakdown With Vice Software

Now that you know what factors can impact the cost of development, let’s get into the specifics

Step One: Design

At Vice Software, we start the process of building apps with design-work from our friends at Brandcave. The first piece of collateral they create is a user flow map, which typically takes 5-10 hours at a rate of $100 an hour. Once this is complete, they’ll start on the next phase, high-fidelity wireframes & dev specs. This stage tends to be lengthier, around 20-40 hours at a rate of $100 an hour. 

** Once you have the design elements, you can show them to investors to give a more complete picture of your vision and shop for additional funding. 

Step Two: Development 

The final stage, the stage we’ve all been waiting for, is development. The first piece is a deposit, which will range from $12-$30k based on the project size. Depending on the size of the team, the development itself will cost around $14-$25k per month. We never compromise on the integrity of the app, so to bring the best value and allow our clients to remain hands-on with the project, we build the architecture onshore and the app itself offshore.


While we can’t say exactly how much an app will cost without knowing the details, the typical app takes three to six months to complete at a total price of $45-$180k.

Vice Software is dedicated to bringing our clients impeccable software at shockingly reasonable prices. Our agile model allows you to build only what you need, so you can add on as additional funding and user feedback becomes available. If you aren’t sure how much your app is going to cost, request a quote today! Our experts are happy to go over the prices with you, help determine what features you need, and make a game plan so your app can become a reality. We look forward to working with you.

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