How Much Does It Cost To Hire An App Developer?

Hiring an app developer or turning to an app development company will impact your overall development cost. The question is: how much will it cost to hire an app developer?

Building an app is as exciting as it is arduous. From charting out all the requirements and features to mapping out development deadlines to dealing with miscellaneous roadblocks, building an app can get quite overwhelming. This is why hiring an app developer or an app development company can help you navigate this maze.

What Factors Determine The Cost Of Hiring Mobile App Developers?

While hiring an app developer certainly impacts the overall app development cost, let’s start by understanding all the technical factors that affect the cost of app development. App development costs are largely dependent on three basic parameters:

  • Features
  • Type of app (simple or complex?)
  • Mobile Platform
  • Hourly rates and payment

It’s important to note that these three cost factors are broad in their scope and one must budget for back-end servers, frequent app updates, marketing costs, and other hidden costs.

What Is The Cost of Mobile App Development?

Based on our research for app costs, a simple app on a single mobile platform can start at $25,000 and more complex apps have average costs that cross six-figures pushing upwards of a million dollars. This is largely dependent on who develops the app and the factors mentioned in the section above.

For instance, a cross-platform or native app that requires complex design user interfaces, strong back-end CMS (content management system), top-notch front-end design, and quality cloud servers can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1,500,000.

Similarly, a moderately complex app with rich features built by a leading app development company can cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1,000,000. Compared to this, apps built by smaller companies (who have only 3-4 people) or boutique iOS developers can cost around $50,000 to $500,000.

It’s important to remember that estimating app development costs is like building a house. And just like how every house has its unique set of specifications and features, every app has its own set of individual requirements that can greatly impact costs.

Also, the costs mentioned here are based on minimum time and effort and so, the exact cost of building an app boils down to the precise specifications and who is building it.

Who Will Develop The Mobile Application For You?

The cost of software development for a slick app largely depends on the development team.

Do you want to hire an in-house development team or turn to freelance app developers? Or partner with a mobile app development company?

When hiring an in-house development team, you’ll need to budget for various hiring and administrative costs coupled with training and other expenses. On the other hand, using the services of a freelancer marketplace like Toptal or can prove to be a highly effective and cost-friendly solution.

You can also resort to finding freelance developers through LinkedIn, Craigslist, and Upwork. However, this will entail similar costs associated with hiring an in-house team.

Another great alternative is to simply sign up with a mobile app development company like Willowtree or Apptology. These specialized agencies offer unique specialists catered to your development requirements.

However, if you plan on developing several other mobile apps, it may make more financial sense to build an in-house team or to hire a bunch of seasoned freelance developers. To better explain this, here are the pros and cons of hiring a mobile development agency or a freelance developer.

Pros and Cons Of Hiring A Custom Mobile App Development Agency


1. Multifaceted app developers

Most app development agencies double app as a full staff agency that offers app developers, designers, quality analysts, all under one roof. This means you don’t need to hunt for talent outside of the agency.

2. Better development process and project management

Mobile app development agencies provide all necessary information like their portfolio of work, estimated cost of development, project estimates, etc. beforehand. You know exactly what you will get before you sign up for their services.

3. High-quality mobile app development services

App development companies ensure top quality app development services from their employees. The company ensures that all the work is done as per the given timeline and without compromising on the quality.


1. Lack of dedication

A major disadvantage of hiring an app development agency is the lack of dedicated attention due to the multiple projects being taken up at once. There is a good chance that a team of developers are working simultaneously on or two to three projects at the same time. This will hamper productivity and efficiency for your app.

2. High cost

A major disadvantage of hiring a well-reputed agency is the high cost associated with it. Given that top quality and proven work often demand higher costs, it still can be a con for those on a shoestring budget.

Pros and Cons Of Hiring A Freelance Mobile App Developer


1. Lower app development costs

The cost of hiring a freelance app developer will surely be lower than that of hiring a mobile app development agency since you are hiring only one or two experts.

2. Talented freelance developers

Most freelance developers on marketplaces like Toptal are highly qualified individuals with several accolades to prove their mettle. These candidates are experts with years of app development experience.


1. Hard to find all the needed skill sets

When it comes to hiring freelance developers, it’s hard to find all the talent your app idea requires in one developer. You’ll have to hunt for designers and testing personnel separately and that can be very time-consuming.

2. Lack of project management

Unless you are using a freelance marketplace, working directly with freelancers means there will be no project manager to coordinate with. You will have to directly liaise with the freelance team and set budgets and timelines accordingly. You will also have to regularly follow up.

How Much Does Design Affect the Overall App Development Cost?

Steve Jobs once said that “design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.” This holds true in the case of mobile app development design since the entirety of the app depends on the visual design, user interfaces, and user experience.

The logos, icons, branding, wireframes, and push notifications all play a critical role in the success of a smartphone app. Having said that, the design of the app also impacts the cost of development. A seasoned designer can cost upwards of $150 an hour and a less experienced designer can charge around $50 an hour.

These costs differ in different parts of the world and so it makes sense to outsource the designing to a country where the costs might be lesser. For instance, in certain countries like India or Ukraine, the hourly rate can be as much as $10 to $20 for good quality work by iOS and Android app developers. If you can overcome the difference in time zones, then that may be a good option.

Another parameter to consider when it comes to design costs is the complexity of the app. Simple app designs can cost around $5000 whereas complicated apps with multiple pages and intricate design elements can cost upwards of $25,000.

Even the platform plays a role in determining the cost. Android apps can be designed in a budget of $5000 whereas the same IOS app can go over $12,000.

What types of features impact app development cost?

App development is an intricate process that requires building and enabling a host of features. Every feature adds to the time taken to deliver the app and the overall cost of the app.

In fact, an Outsystems survey titled State of application development 2017, indicated that around 80% of mobile apps take more than 3 months to develop! This is primarily down to the complex features most apps come equipped nowadays. Before greenlighting new app features, do market research on what your target audience wants and are expecting. Building top-notch features for the sake of features will not help your app idea succeed.

Assuming the cost per hour is between $25 and $50, here’s what your cost structure for the following sample features would look like:

Developing an iPhone app or Android app greatly depends on who is going to build it. While freelance developers make for promising alternatives to signing up with a mobile app development agency, the question that still remains is, from an MVP to a completed project, what factors to consider before hiring an app developer? The following parameters will help you make an informed decision.

1. Check their portfolio of work and skill set. Does it resemble any work that is similar to your project requirements and business needs?

2. Ask about their familiarity with programming languages, such as React, Swift, and JavaScript. Are they knowledgeable enough to build a complex app?

3. Check their current clients. Are they working with top tier companies or brands?

4. Talk about your budget. How much do they charge? Is their estimate in the periphery of your budget?

5. Ask about their mobile platform-expertise. Which platform (Android, iOS, web, hybrid) do they specialize in?

6. Ask them about the timeline and development process. How much time will they take to complete the app development? WIll there be a phase-wise launch or a soft launch?

7. Probe them for app design details. Do they have a design team or will they hire mobile app designers?

8. Understand their quality assurance and testing practices. How do they test the app? How much time will be spent on testing and resolving bugs?

9. Get an update on app maintenance. Who will update the app from time to time? How much time and cost will be involved?

10. Ask them about customization. Is there any room for customization or changes in the app post-launch? If so, what type of customizations?

These parameters and questions will help to hire the right app developer to build your app to shine in the app store.