If you're in the market for a mobile app, there are some things you should consider before you dive in. The first is the development cost. You may be thinking that it should be relatively cheap to just whip something up with off-the-shelf software and basic code, but this assumption couldn't be further from the truth.

There are several factors that go into the development cost of an app and it can get expensive quickly. You can save yourself the hassle by following these guidelines when you're ready to hire a mobile app developer.

Requirements and Design Estimates

In order to know how much an app will cost, you have to know what it's going to do and what the final product will look like. The best way to do this is to either hire a professional mobile app developer or outsource your work.

Professional App Developer

If you're working with a professional app developer, they will be able to tell you how much an app is going to cost and how long it's going to take to complete.

 The issue with this approach, however, is that a good developer can be expensive and it may not fit into your budget.

Outsourcing your work

If hiring a freelance developer is out of the question, then the next best thing would be to hire someone overseas or on sites like UpWork.

If you're looking to save money, this could be the route for you. With overseas developers, you can easily look through portfolios and find someone who can do quality work and fit into your budget.

If you don't want to go overseas but still want to keep costs low, then UpWork is the next best thing. There are a lot of developers who are local and skilled. You can look through their portfolios before hiring them and often get a quality product at a reasonable price.

Contract vs. Contract-Free

When you're hiring a developer, you have to decide whether you'll be paying per hour or on a per-project basis. With a per hour contract, the developer will bill your account for each completed hour of work.

If you hire your app developer on a per-project basis, then they will bill the cost of your project up to the estimate date. If your project extends past the estimate date, then it's an additional cost.

Benefits of a per-hour contract

With a per-hour contract, you don't have to pay out the entire cost right away. You can pay for the project as it develops without having to worry about how much it will cost.

Benefits of a per-project contract

If your app is going to take a lot of time and energy, then perhaps you shouldn't make hourly payments.

With a per-project contract, you can pay the developer as they work. This keeps your developers motivated and happy because they're getting paid for the work that they do.

Framework or No Framework?

Another important factor when it comes to estimating how much an app will cost is whether you want your developer to use a framework.

A framework is a set of pre-written code that can be applied to most projects. Mobile development frameworks help with the maintenance of large and complicated applications by providing reusable code, documentation and testing components.

Benefits of a framework

Using a framework can save you time and money because it can reduce the amount of work that you have to do. This allows your developer to focus entirely on your app and develop it faster.

Benefits of no framework

On the other hand, using a framework can be hard to manage and doesn't allow for any customization.

You can always choose to code your app from scratch if you want, without a pre-written framework.


Don't expect the final product to come out exactly how you want it. This is a learning process. In order for your app to work as well as you want it to, you have to understand how it works and how different parts interrelate.

Don't be afraid of what the end product will look like because you'll learn something from every breakdown that is made. You might also find that a certain feature isn't really necessary and can easily be omitted without affecting the app's overall functionality too much.


The three points estimate

Most companies use a three-point estimate when coming up with a final price point.

The first point is a certain number of hours that the project will take to complete. The second point is the quality of the product. The third point is your choice of developer, either professional or freelance. You'll be able to find out what an app will cost by adding these three factors together and comparing them with other companies' rates.

Your minimal budget

In order to understand how much an app will cost, you have to establish a minimal budget.

The first thing you should do is figure out the app's features and functionality. Take each of these steps in this order:

Summarize the app's features and functionality into bullet points.

List all the features that you can't live without in your app. These are things like payment methods, APIs, analytics and so forth.

Note which features take time to develop or would require extra work and research. These are things like payment gateways, payment methods, and APIs.

These features will be the most costly; you'll want to reevaluate whether or not they are necessary. 

Keep in mind that you can always add these features to your app later on if it becomes more popular.

When you've listed the features that you want in your app, you can then determine how much it will cost to build your app and set a budget.

Determine whether you'll be creating an Android or iOS app.

Once you've decided which operating system to target, then come up with a rough estimate of the size of your app and its functionality.

Be sure to factor in any graphics and animations that will be required for the project as well as any complex programming code.

Next, estimate what it will cost to commission a professional or freelance developer to build your app.

You can add an extra 10 to 25 percent to this final figure for unexpected costs that may occur during development.

Once you have all the information you need, you'll be able to determine a ballpark estimate of the total cost of your app.


When it comes down to it, you should be able to find out how much an app will cost by visiting several different companies and comparing their rates and prices with each other.