How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer in 2018?

You’ve probably come to this article with questions such as, “How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer?” or “How much will it cost to make an app for my business?” or even, “Are there cheaper ways to build my mobile app?”


As much as we want to give you exact figures, it will be hard to compute how much an app development project will cost as there’s a lot of factors involved throughout the process that influence the total cost. Until you find a mobile app developer or talk to an outsourcing company or agency, all you will be able to find are estimates based on the complexity and functionalities of your app.


In this article, you’ll learn the factors that influence the costs of making an app as well as the estimate of developer rates, helping you prepare well for your mobile app development project.



Before anything else, you should know that there are three types of apps:


A web app, when put simply, is a mobile version of a website. Web apps have become increasingly important as studies like that by Statista shows that users now spend more time on apps than on mobile websites. A web app can help your business strengthen its online presence and audience reach.


A native app, on the other hand, is a type of mobile app that’s built for a specific operating system (say, exclusively for iOS or Android). Native apps are downloaded from an app store and can be accessed on certain devices only. They are among the more complex apps as they are built using certain languages only and they are built to provide the ultimate user experience.


Lastly, a hybrid app is a combination of a web app and a native app. Just like a native app, you can download hybrid apps from app stores; just like a web app, they are built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Hybrid apps run in Webview and operate on more than one platform. They are also more popular because they’re easier to develop and manage.


Related article: 5 Reasons to Hire a Mobile App Developer Offshore



App development cost comes from a combination of several factors and aspects. There are factors that you should look into for you to at least get an idea of how much you’ll be spending, such as these:


App Functionality and Purpose

This item includes what your app will be doing for its users. The complexity and the functionality of your app directly affect the development cost; more complex features will need the expertise of a higher level developer, thus increasing your app development costs.


Integration of Third-party Apps

Will your app take content or data from third-party apps, or will your app be concentrated on its own platform? This is another factor that influences your development cost. Connecting your app with a third party app will require API development along with some very meticulous safety measures, so this can potentially increase your app development costs.


Visual Complexity

The complexity of the visual objects inside your app is directly proportional to the development cost. Take note that more complex visuals will require greater effort and skills from both your back-end and front-end developers, and naturally, this all comes with a price tag. For example, using the AR/VR technology will definitely be more costly than using simple transitions and animations.


Use of Smartphone Hardware Features

Will your app be using smartphone hardware features such as GPS, the motion processor, and NFC technology? Determine whether your app will be dependent on smartphone features or not and to what extent. Apps that are more dependent on smartphones’ inbuilt capabilities will require API integration, thus costing more.


Maintenance Plan

Generally, estimate costs of mobile app development do not include the update or maintenance cost as they are generally incurred after the app is launched. Nevertheless, this is certainly one factor that you should allocate budget and tech talent for.


Team Size

The scale of your project and the number of tasks dictate how many developers you will need to work on your app. Often, if not always, the number of your team members is directly proportional to the app development cost. When considering the team size, you should take into consideration the skill level of the developers and tech talents you need to hire.



Apps differ greatly in functions and complexity, so they also differ greatly in costs. Here is a table with estimates of developer rates and hours needed during development for 6 types of mobile apps:  


To compute for the app development cost, multiply the rate per hour and the hours required. In the table below, you’ll find sample computation for simple, moderate, and complex apps: 



Aside from tapping your local talent pool to find your mobile app developers, the technology today has made it possible for other types of collaboration, which, in some instances, are even more cost-effective than hiring professionals.


Do-it-Yourself building platforms

There are many free platforms online that lets users drag and drop features to build an app. However, you really can’t expect sophisticated features as well as security updates, bug fixes, and the like with apps built on these platforms. While these platforms can help you get started, know that this is only for simpler projects.



The good thing about working with freelancers to build a mobile app is that they tend to have lower rates than in-house mobile app developers. However, maintaining communication with freelance developers can become difficult and exhausting in the long run if not done right, and there’s also no guarantee of future support and maintenance.


Hiring in-house developers

Building an in-house development team is advantageous for businesses despite it being a long and expensive task. When you build your own development team, remember that there should be at least these roles:


Be creative in reaching out to your local tech talent pool as competition for skilled mobile developers nowadays can be especially fierce.


Related article: Top 9 Criteria for Choosing the Right IT Outsourcing Partner


Outsourcing companies

When none of the above options suits your needs and your budget, partnering with IT outsourcing companies may be the best route to take for your business. Outsourcing companies are able to help startups and SMEs find and hire mobile app developers at competitive costs in as fast as two weeks.


Price is an important factor, but there are other equally important aspects that you should look into when looking for app developers, such as tech expertise, UI/UX skills, developer locations, and more. For a more comprehensive guide, we’ve compiled the do’s and don’ts when hiring Android developers in another blog.  


If you’re interested in working with outsourcing companies and agencies, it’s important to check their online presence. Visit their website or their LinkedIn page to get as much information about who they are and what they do. Head next to their history and reviews to have an idea of how long they’re in the business and how they handle their clients. Lastly, check their expertise and the previous projects they’ve handled.


Based on your research, go with the outsourcing company or agency that will bring you the most value and the most hassle-free experience at the most competitive price.




Want to know more about how much app development costs with Cloud Employee? Talk to us! Learn how Cloud Employee works, see our Developer Pricing Guide. You can hire dedicated offshore developers with us across many technologies.

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Andy Charters
Commercial Director
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