Building an app costs money, and there’s no getting around the fact that you will need to make an upfront investment to kickstart your project.

When pricing an app build, there are few key cost drivers that you need to be aware of and factor into your brief.

Whether you’re building an app for your consumers or your business, your requirements and the features you want all contribute to the final app development cost.

1. Android vs. iOS vs. Windows

It’s important to point out that different devices use different languages, an app written for Android won’t work on an iPhone and vice versa. If you require a high quality app to work across all devices, then separate code will be required for each device, this is called a native app. If you need to stick to a tight budget and aren’t looking for top quality, but still need the app to work on all devices, you can opt for a hybrid app.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, and there isn’t one solution that answers all requirements.

NATIVE APPS are specific to the mobile platform (Android/iOS/Windows) using code relevant to the respective platform.
Pros: Features advanced UI, has full device capabilities with maximum performance across all platforms
Cons: Can be more costly with potentially longer dev time, code for one platform only works for that platform.

HYBRID APPS are built with a combination of different web technologies that are hosted inside a container.
Pros: Rapid development for a simple UI, can be cheaper with a quicker time to market
Cons: Complex layers reduce app performance, extended features still require native code and it’s not quite a build once deploy anywhere.

This is the main cost driver of building an app, and affects not just the final cost of your app but the user experience too. A lot of thought needs to be put into this decision particularly around how your users will be interacting with the app.

2. App Features

Quite simply, the more features you require the higher your costs will be. The more complicated your app, the more development time is required.
If initial budgets are tight then you should consider phasing features. This means launching an app with a few key features, and introducing new features as and when you have more budget. A huge benefit of this approach is the opportunity to analyse user’s behaviour within the new app, giving you a much clearer picture of whether additional features will be beneficial or not.  By opting for a phased approach, you’re not only reducing risk, but it will help you enhance and perfect your app.

3. Development Timescales

Similar to building a house, the quicker you need a house built the more people need to work on it, and the overheads go up. You will need to set a realistic expectation of your timescales for your budget. If your launch date cannot be moved, then we recommend the phased approach as mentioned above; launching with one or two features and gradually releasing new ones over the following months. We suggest planning your app as far in advance as possible and ensuring your development agency is aware of the project deadlines.

4. App Security

Security is a huge requirement when building an app, and will definitely have an effect on your app costs. Levels of security will vary dependant on your app features, how users are interacting with it and what data is being exchanged. If you require higher levels of security, be prepared to spend more of your budget on security. This becomes particularly important when building an app for business, if data is being exchanged between a central server and numerous employee handsets an API should be put in place to reduce risk of mobile malware. Although this requires more development time and increases your initial costs, it will future-proof your business for further developments. The rule of thumb is to be completely clear on the sensitivity of the data you’ll be sharing and what permission levels need to be created. The agency who develop your app will be able to give advice and guidance on security options and what precautions need to be put in place, particularly when payments are processed in app.

5. Development Iterations

The biggest cost driver we see is a result of unclear objectives for the app. If the business goals haven’t been established during the initial stages of app creation, the purpose of the app and features required can change throughout development. If a significant amount of changes and iterations occur throughout the development stage, the costs soon add up. It’s key that you use the initial discovery time establishing the results you want. Forming a clear vision of what your app needs to achieve will make it much easier for your development agency to make suggestions and give advice in the early stages reducing iterations throughout development.


Whichever agency you work with, they’ll be able to explain the full cost breakdown of your app idea, and will be able to advise on ways to stick to a specific budget. The app development cost will ultimately vary, but the main thing is to be clear on exactly what you want or need the app to do. Once you know this it’s easy to price up what each feature or version will cost.

If you’d like to discuss the cost of developing an app with a member of the Sonin team then head over to our contact page, or start a chat via the LiveChat feature on the bottom right hand of your screen.

If you’re building an app for business and would like to know more about what challenges you might face  download our free white paper on the 8 key challenges of enterprise mobility and how you can achieve success.