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Dec 19 2017

How Much Does It Cost To Make a Mobile App?

We get this question a lot in our line of work. People have an idea for a phone application but they have no idea what the cost is. The interesting thing we have found is that people tend not to be as surprised by the price of an app as they are by the price of a website – despite costing quite a bit more on average – at least when dealing with app developers here in Dubai. The factors that determine what an app will set you back are numerous – from the quality of development to the number of unique functionalities and the quantity of design work. We will do our best to explain the factors that determine the price of a mobile application.

What do leading agencies say?

Formotus published a post where they compiled several studies and the opinions of leading global app development agencies and determined that a mobile app costs $140,000 on average with a median of $171,450 per app. Applico prices theirs “somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000,” Savvy Apps estimates “between $150,000 to $450,000,” Fueled ballparks “as little as $150,000 … as much as $500,000,” and Reinvently quotes “somewhere between $100,000 and $400,000” for a full application. Fueled has more recently increased their estimates to sums that approach $500,000 just for a first prototype. Needless to say, the costs can ramp up quite quickly with the more prestigious agencies. App design and development agencies in Dubai are still not quite on these price levels but are approaching them rapidly.

Native and cross-platform development

The price of an app depends strongly on the quality of development, and the highest in quality is to develop apps natively for each device. Think of native development as a tailored suit. It is made with the right materials, has the exact shade you want, and suits your body perfectly – after all, it is made only for you. Cross-platform development is like a suit off the rack. It fits you fine, maybe even very well, but it will never have the perfect cut of something made just for you. Apps are the same. Cross-platform apps run on a multitude of devices and platforms but they are never perfect. There will be bugs, incompatibilities, and restrictions as opposed to developing it natively for each platform. Business of Apps estimates that native development is around 33% more costly than hybrid or cross-platform.

The design quality

There are tiers when it comes to the design of a mobile app. You can get the barebones, ugly looking, purely functional appearance relatively cheap compared to a professional and aesthetic design. Then, there is a middle tier, with some templates and some customization, but still lacks a certain identity. Finally, there is an expert, quality design, a design that incorporates branding, functionality, user experience, and many more factors to create something unique, intuitive, and beautiful. Make no mistake, good design comes at a cost, and premium agencies will hire talented and creative designers to make your app surpass your wildest vision, but be prepared to foot that bill. This handy estimate platform made by Crew predicts up to a $30,000 jump between the minimal and fully decked out app when it comes to design. That’s almost double the price! App design agencies in Dubai sometimes like to rush this part but the better agencies consistently create very innovative designs.

The agency versus freelancer conundrum

An app made by a premium, name-brand agency will cost far more than the same app made by a freelancer, but these savings come with large risks. Well-known agencies are renowned for a reason – they deliver amazing apps consistently and within scope. They are professional and your experience with them as a client will be phenomenal. A freelancer can fall and break a leg on the way to the grocery store and suddenly your app is delayed by weeks. Savvy Apps provides a handy graph that gives an idea of app price in relation to agency size and prestige:

This should give you some perspective – the same app can cost 10 times more when dealing with a big brand rather than with a small shop. Choose your designers and developers wisely, because for the average business, there is often a happy medium between the dizzying highs of Fueled and the risky lows of an offshore freelancer.

The back-end of development

How complex is your app? Is it just a glorified company brochure or a platform with a back-end, APIs, and servers holding it up? The more complex your project, the faster the costs ramp up – for two reasons. First, the sheer amount of work warrants a much higher price – plain and simple. Every feature requires specialized expertise and extra man-hours. Furthermore, for a big, complex app, you will want to go with a more reputable agency and not someone off a freelance website. This will further multiply the costs of your project. At Powered, we have developed extremely simple apps, the equivalent of a landing page with an extra feature or two for prices as low as $15,000. But our more typical project – a fleshed-out and functional app will typically go for something in the $80,000-$90,000 range.

The bottom line

If you’re here for just a raw number and don’t care about the details, here’s a handy table with the price based on agency size and app complexity:

Big Dogs

Small Project: $150,000

Medium Project: $500,000

Large Project: $1,000,000+

Medium Agencies

Small Project: $100,000

Medium Project: $350,000

Large Project: $500,000

Small Fries

Small Project: $30,000

Medium Project: $50,000

Large Project: $80,000


But more than just the price, it is about picking the company that is right for you. You need to find an agency that can handle your project without delays or failure, but that will still be within your budget. So rather than simply asking how much your app will cost in dollars, also consider how much it will cost you in time, stress, future development, and the value of your customers. You can always drop us a line, at Powered App Design and Development in Dubai and we’ll give you a quote on your project.

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