How Much Does It Cost To Build An App In 2023?

We’re all so reliant on our phones and tablets these days that you’ll struggle to find a business that doesn't see the value of having its own app. But the big question is, how much does it cost to build an app? Can it be done on a budget, or will you have to flog a kidney on eBay to pay for it? What eats up most of your money during app development, and could you potentially do it yourself?

Let’s find out.

Why having an app developed is a good idea

First, a few stats to convince you that sinking time and money into having an app developed app development, whether that’s Android, iOS, or both, will more than pay for the investment.  

  • There are 3.5 million apps on the Google Play store, which were downloaded 110 billion times in 2022 and generated $42.3 billion in revenue.
  • There are 1.6 million apps in the Apple iOS Store. Despite not having as many apps as the Google Play Store, iOS was responsible for 67% of app consumer spending in 2022, generating a whopping $36.3 billion in revenue.
  • The app and game market as a whole was worth $129 billion in 2022.

Excited yet? In that case, let's get into the nitty gritty about where your money will go during app development.

Where do you start with app development?

The process is fairly similar for both iOS and Android. Having a great idea is all well and good, but if you want your app to be a success, you need to hyper-focus on what your target audience actually wants in terms of features and services. Also, give serious thought to the user experience; sketch it all out on paper and really refine it. This stage isn’t particularly glamorous, but if you do it right and give it the attention (and budget) that it deserves, it’ll save you a fortune in redesigns and tinkering later on.

Once that’s done, it’s time to start building, developing, and testing.

Cost breakdowns

Clutch, a B2B analytics company, conducted a study in 2017 to find out how more than 100 app development companies in the USA chose to divide their budget.

  • Discovery and research: 51% spend less than $5,000
  • User Interface and design: 32% spend less than $5,000
  • Development: Only 9% spent less than $5,000, with 15% choosing to allocate over $30,000!
  • Testing and Deployment: Just under a third of companies spent up to $10,000 on this phase

If you like you can also check out our excellent clutch reviews.

What do people charge to build an app?

You have a few different options here. You could use a no-code app builder to write the app’s code and keep your initial budget low, but be warned that this will incur further costs down the line, and they’re also a pain to try and update and debug.

Your second option is a freelance app builder. They might do a good job for you, but you’ll pay through the nose for it, and you can forget about any help with ongoing maintenance. They’ll Foxtrot Oscar like a fart in the wind as soon as the app is finished.

Finally, you could choose an agency like Foresight Mobile for app development. The costs are competitive, you’ll get a whole team with loads of different skill sets working on it, and you’ll also get help with ongoing maintenance, fixes, and debugging.

Costs of publishing to the iOS and Google Play Stores

Many people don't realise that you have to pay for a developer licence to upload and publish your app on the Google Play Store and the iOS Apple Store. The fee is nominal, but you should expect to pay $99 / £99 for Apple and $25 / £25 for Google.

You’ll also need to cover server costs for any back-end work. Most agencies and freelancers with set you up with a PHP / MySQL admin dashboard, but this will tie you in with hosting costs (and the same agency) forever. Here at Foresight, we prefer to use Firebase, which will keep server costs low (as in zero) when your user numbers are low and scale linearly with usage.

How much is it to market your app?

Another common oversight is setting aside some money to market your app once it's built. Avenues such as sponsoring YouTubers and in-game advertisements are popular ways of attracting extra revenue. Once your app is established, you should plan to spend between 5-15% of your sales turnover on marketing to keep it in the public eye.

That all sounds really expensive. How much does it cost to make an app myself?

You could use the no-code app builder we mentioned above to help with the coding, or if you're skilled in coding and app development already, then there’s nothing to stop you from building it yourself and driving your costs right down. In those situations, the only costs you might incur are the developer licence fees, hosting fees, plugins you might purchase, and any advertising you might want to do. If, however, you have no experience, then you’ll soon realise that it's worth paying for someone else to develop your app. Your blood pressure monitor will thank you.

What are the ongoing maintenance costs of building an app in 2023?

This really depends on the tech that it's built on. Apple and Android are constantly updating their Operating Systems, and your app will need to adapt alongside them, or it’ll get left behind. If your app is well-built, then maintenance costs should be minimal, but if you tried to cut corners during the app's development, then this is where it comes back to bite you.

What will cause the cost of my app development to rise?

The more complex the app is and the more features it has, the higher you should expect your bill to be. Things like payment integration systems, third-party API use (signing in via Google, Facebook, etc.), and messaging/live chat will add significantly to your overall bill. Ironically, they could also be the things that make your app successful, so plan your budget and your business strategy carefully and always have a contingency fund.

Also, if you’re developing your app for Android and iOS (known as native development), expect a higher bill, as there’s a lot more time and work involved in building for the two different platforms.

How much does it cost to build an app?

Okay, time to answer the big question; how much does it cost to build an app? Every app is different, so there’s no such thing as a one-fits-all solution. Depending on the complexity of the app, your build could cost anywhere between £1,000 and £100,000.

Why does the cost of app development vary so much?

The main reasons for this big gulf in prices are all linked to the amount of time that's needed to complete the project, its complexity, the number of platforms it will be published on, and how many people will need to be involved.

How much does Foresight Mobile charge to build an app in 2023?

As we mentioned above, this will all depend on the complexity of the project. What we can guarantee is a competitive price, a team of dedicated professionals with a decade of experience, and a traceable record of success in app development (including for international brands such as Levi’s and EA).

We use Flutter in our app builds, which saves you money because we don't need to develop the app twice for each platform, and Google's support for Flutter guarantees that it and your app will be around for a long time.

We also offer comprehensive support and maintenance after the build is done, so your app will always be in sync with the latest iOS and Android updates and running as smoothly as a greased eel. Hit the button below to have a no-obligation chat about how much it costs to build an app with Foresight Mobile today.

Meet our CTO, Gareth. He has been involved in mobile app development for almost 20 years. Gareth is an experienced CTO and works with many startups

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