Hiring Mobile App Developers: How Much Does it Cost to Hire an App Developer?

So you’ve finally decided that it’s time to create a mobile application.

Now what?

Whether you’re creating an app from scratch or launching one for your existing company, the first step is figuring out how you’re going to develop it.

You’ve got a few options to consider.

You can learn how to become a mobile app developer on your own, but that’s not necessarily realistic for everyone.

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Do you know how to write code for apps?

I’m willing to bet that’s not part of your current skillset.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not impossible to learn how to code.

But do you really have the time for that?

If you’re currently running a business, I’m sure that takes enough time out of your day as it is. I don’t want to discourage you from learning a new programming languages for software development, but I’m just trying to be realistic. As an expert in this industry, I know how much time and effort it takes to learn how to code.

My experience has taught me that the first app someone builds after learning to code isn’t going to be flawless.

If your app has bugs, glitches, or other problems it can increase the chances of user abandonment.

You don’t want to fall into that category.

So now that we’ve ruled learning to code out of the equation, I’ll give you the most reasonable option. Hire an app developer.

If you start to shop around, you’ll learn that there are so many different options and price ranges.

It’s overwhelming.

You may be tempted to just go with the cheapest option, but you don’t want to sacrifice on the quality.

On the flip side, you don’t want to necessarily pick the most expensive choice.

You’ll quickly realize that the priciest developers can cost upward of $1 million.


So, now you’re asking yourself – how much should hiring an app developer actually cost?

It’s a fair question.

While I can’t give you an exact number, I tell you what to look out for to help narrow your choices.

Here’s everything you need to know before you get started.

Primary concerns when hiring a developer

Everyone’s situation is different.

Not every app costs the same amount to build and not every developer charges the same rate.

So there are a combination of factors to consider when figuring out how much this process is going to cost you.

Think of your app like any other business, product, or service.

Let’s use a simple analogy of a wristwatch as a comparison.

Not all watches are the same, and the premium ones that have the most features and accessories are more expensive to build.

Same goes for your app.

So if you want to develop an app that’s really basic with minimal functionality, it will be less expensive.

Here are the key factors to consider when you’re determining the development costs.

Focus, scope, and complexity

These three components are all related, so I thought it would be best to keep them grouped together.

Answer these few questions to get you started on the right track.

  1. What’s the primary function this app?
  2. How much is my budget?
  3. How intricate will the user experience be?

You can’t show up to a developer without some sort of insight.

Make sure you have some general direction of what you’re looking for.

You also need to come up with a reasonable and realistic budget.

About 70% of firms that develop apps require a research or discovery phase before they get started.

So essentially, you’ll even have to budget some funds for the process of planning and getting on the same page with your developer.

At this point, you’ll start to determine exactly how complex your final app is going to be.

You can tell them what you’re looking for and the price will get impacted based on your requests.

So for example, if you wanted to build an app that’s just a calculator.

That’s easy.

It doesn’t require any user logins or customizable experiences.

Your app would even be able to run without connecting to a network or anything like that.

The process would be super simple for the developer, so it wouldn’t cost you much money at all.

That’s one end of the spectrum.

On the other side of the scale, think about an app like Uber.

They’ve got two different types of users on the platform – drivers and riders.

Each user has a unique profile that stores their information.

It also uses real time GPS monitoring to track and match different users.

Uber stores and processes payment information.

They’ve got to make sure everyone’s information is secure and have everything connected to a server.

I’m summarizing. In reality, the app does so much more than that, but you can see where I’m going with this.

It’s obviously much more complex than just building a calculator app.

So it’s going to cost more money to build.

In addition to the cost, apps with high complexity will also take a longer time to develop.

When you’re coming up with a budget, make sure you include costs such as:

  • Overhead
  • Server hosting
  • Subscription fees for third party services (push notifications, email, SMS, API integrations, etc.)
  • Legal fees

You’ve got to take everything into account and expect the unexpected.

You don’t want to run out of money because you failed to give your developer an accurate scope and were misleading in terms of the complexity.

Operating platform

Now that you’ve gone through the preliminary stages, it’s time to determine what platform you’re going to launch your app on.

Will you focus on the iOS platform and go through the Apple App Store?

Or are you targeting Android users on the Google Play Store?

Maybe both?

Well depending on your decision, it will impact your costs of hiring a developer.

If you’re looking at it from a completely economical viewpoint, Android apps cost roughly 30% more to develop than iOS apps. So you can expect Android app developers to cost a bit more than iOS developers.

But that’s not to turn you away from the Google Play Store.

This decision should be based on your target audience and marketing strategy.

Here are some other factors to consider about app developers and app development cost.

The average cost to acquire a long term user on Android’s platform is $5.77 while it costs an average of $4.12 to obtain a long term iOS user.

With that said, there are way more Android users out there for you to target.

users ios android

This statement holds true on a global scale for users of every age group.

So while the iOS platform may be appealing because of the price, you’re neglecting the majority of the market share if you only launch via the Apple App Store.

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That’s partially why it will cost you more money to develop an Android app.

So if you’re already set on a certain platform, that’s fine if you want to stick with your plan.

Just don’t be surprised at the significant price difference between these two operating systems.

Something else to consider is using a progressive web app (PWA) to cut down on costs.

These are hybrid apps as opposed to native apps.

hybrid vs native 1

While most native apps may have a better user experience, hybrid apps have more benefits when it comes to development.

You can get launch your app much faster this way.

It also cuts down significantly on costs while giving you the ability to launch on multiple platforms.

If you’re working with a limited budget and you’re open to a developing alternative, you might want to consider building a PWA.

Type of app

Remember earlier when I asked you to determine the primary function of your app?

Well, I want to talk about that in greater detail.

The type of app that you’re trying to develop will factor into the developer’s price.

Here are some rough guidelines to give you some figures to work with.

  • $50,000 – Basic apps like a calculator or clock
  • $50,000 to $100,000 – Apps that use data consumption like a weather app
  • $300,000 – User authentication (basic personal profile) required to use the app
  • $500,000 – Social media and dating apps like Facebook or Tinder
  • $200,000 to $1 million – Ecommerce apps
  • $1.5 million – On demand apps like Uber

Those numbers aren’t set in stone or anything like that, but it’s a fair representation and gauge to compare to prices you may be getting from different developers.

Gaming apps also typically cost more to develop depending on the complexity.

So just understand that this will factor into the cost of hiring a developer.


Here’s something else to consider.

Where are you hiring the app developer from?

Yes, I’m talking about their physical location.

This plays a role in the development costs as well.

Here’s an analogy.

Look at the manufacturing industry.

Clothing sold in the United States wasn’t necessarily made in the same country.

Retailers outsource production overseas because it’s less expensive.

Well, we can apply that same concept when it comes to mobile app development.

The only problem with this method is that it’s not always easy to get paired with the right person or company from another country.

You may have to deal with language barriers as well as their reputation.

Actually getting on a plane to meet someone may not be a reasonable option.

But dealing with someone strictly from a foreign country over the Internet isn’t always reliable either.

You want to make sure that you’re not getting scammed, which is always a risk when dealing with potential freelance developers in another part of the world.

With that said, take a look at how geographical location impacts the cost of development.

So if you’re currently consulting with developers in North America, you can expect to pay the highest prices.

I’m not saying that means you should go try to find a developer in India, but I just want to make sure you’re aware of this factor. Hiring a developer overseas may be a financially appealing option to consider, but it comes with certain risks that I mentioned earlier.

Rather than outsourcing to a single mobile app developer, you can look for a mobile app development company instead. With software development companies for mobile apps, you’ll have an entire app development team at your disposal. These software developers are experienced with the development process, and you can get all of your needs under one roof.

This means you’ll have an Android developer, iOS developers, and even developers to help you with web apps.

So just use your best discretion while weighing these options.

Keeping it with BuildFire

Another option to consider is creating your app with BuildFire.

It’s much faster and more reliable than hiring a developer from overseas.

BuildFire is a more cost effective solution than hiring a developer in North America as well.


You’ll save money using this platform to build your app because it doesn’t require custom development to complete basic app functionality.

The BuildFire system will also get your app to market faster than the other methods that we’ve discussed.

This will help you reach and engage more customers.

As we just saw not too long ago, there are significant price differences between building an app for Android users and iOS users.

However, you can develop an app on both of these operating systems simultaneously with BuildFire.

Look, I realize that I’m a little bit biased when it comes to this, but that doesn’t take away from how useful this tool can be for your business.

Earlier I talked about some reasons why learning how to code and developing an app yourself probably isn’t realistic for everyone.

But with BuildFire, you can develop your app without learning any code.

It’s that easy.

Don’t think you have enough time for this?

No problem.

Consult with the BuildFire Pro Services team to get the app built for you.

bf pro services

The designers make this process really simple for you.

You’ve just got to explain exactly what you’re looking for in the app.

They customize your app to tailor your specific wants and needs while using the BuildFire platform.

You’ll also experience a personalized training session that teaches you how to maintain your app after it launches.

Again, I know some of my bias may come into play here, but I would definitely recommend that you give this option a try.

Conclusion – Final thoughts on app development cost

Learning how to code isn’t a reasonable or realistic option for everyone who wants to build an app.

You’re going to need some help.

So, what’s the real cost to hire an app developer?

As you can see from everything we’ve outlined above, there’s not a simple answer to that.

It depends.

There are certain factors to consider when you’re trying to get a ballpark estimate in your search for a reliable app developer.

Start with your focus, scope, and complexity.

You’ve got to have some type of budget in mind that’s related to the primary function of your app.

Price will also be impacted depending on the functionality of the app and how intricate your design components are.

The operating system matters too.

It’s more expensive to hire a developer to build you an app for Android users as opposed to iOS users.

Location also matters.

North America is the most expensive area in the world to hire an app developer.

You can find a developer overseas to build your app, but that comes with certain risks that I wouldn’t necessarily encourage you to take.

Before you hire a mobile app developer, make sure you weigh your options. Using a service like BuildFire to build the app yourself without learning how to code is a much more reasonable solution. Unlike other app development companies, BuildFire offers a DIY solution for mobile apps. You can take your app idea and turn it into a reality without learning a programming language or anything like that.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, BuildFire has professional and experienced team members that can build the mobile application for you. You won’t find another software development company on the market this versatile.

This will save you time, money, and get your app to market faster than the alternative options.

Are you interested in building a native app or hybrid app for your business?

Nic Hughart

Nic is the VP of Sales at BuildFire. He's a proven sales leader with 20+ years of experience in SMB, MM & ENT level sales markets, with more than a decade in the SaaS segment. Nic specializes in leadership, hiring, training, developing, and optimizing growing sales teams.