Table of Contents

If you’re interested in building a mobile app, you’re not alone. In 2023, the global mobile app market was valued at over $220 billion, and it’s estimated to continue growing at around 14% annually. 

Not only has it become more popular to release a native mobile app, but having one could provide a new revenue stream. The problem is that you need to build a mobile app before joining the party. 

Many factors contribute to a mobile app’s overall cost, and hashing them out can be confusing. But don’t lose hope — we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. 

In this article, we’ll shed light on the question we hear all the time: How much does it cost to build a mobile app?

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mobile App? 

The short answer: The cost of building a mobile app depends on several factors. Indeed, not all apps are created equal. 

For instance, you can cobble together a simple mobile app with a limited user base for free.

Conversely, creating a large and complex app that combines your online store and social network that users will download directly from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store can potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Yet another factor critically affects the price you’ll pay to build a mobile app: Whether you outsource its development or build it yourself.   

Average Costs to Outsource App Development

By outsourcing your app’s development, we mean hiring a freelancer or app-development company to create your app: You won’t be building any part of your app at all. However, hiring a freelancer or agency comes with a unique set of pros and cons. 

Whether you go for a freelancer or agency, the app development process will roughly be the same. Here’s an outline of the steps it will take to outsource your mobile app’s development:

  1. Initial Consultation: You’ll meet with the freelancer or team you decide to hire, either by Zoom or face-to-face (if you hire a local app developer from your area), and describe the kind of app you want, your intended audience, your app’s functionalities, and your budget. 

    The freelancer or team will give you a rough idea of the cost of development and the time it will take to launch your app. 
  1. Quote, Contract, and Payment: In no more than a few days, the development team or freelancers will send you a quote and a contract that lays out responsibilities and payment terms. You’ll most likely need to pay a certain amount of cash as a deposit before any building starts. 
  1. Initial Building Begins: Per your contract, the freelancer or team will usually build your app right after your payment hits their bank account. 
  1. Weekly Progress Reports: Ensure that your developers send you weekly reports outlining your app’s progress. This way, you’ll be able to prepare for releasing your app and make adjustments if they hit any road bumps. 

    Protip: To actually see progress, ensure your app’s developers send screenshots of each component they designed for that week. This gives you a clear visual of how your app will appear, so you can immediately nip issues with the color, layout, or anything else in the bud.   
  1. Release of Test Version: Depending on how complex your app is, a test version could be available in as little as a few weeks. While your developers should be in charge of testing your app on third-party testing platforms, you’ll also need to run through your app with a fine-toothed comb. 
  1. Revamping: After the testing round, your app’s developers will fix any issues they find and incorporate the feedback from you and the testers. 

    Revamping your app can include changing the user interface (UI) to make it more accommodating, finding and removing bugs that slow your app down, or completely reconfiguring certain features and functionalities.  
  1. Final Release: When everything works exactly to your liking, it’s time to publish your app to the web, Apple App Store, and Google Play Store. 
  1. Debugging/Updating/Maintenance: Having an app is much like having a lush backyard: You’ll need to maintain it by constantly monitoring its performance, getting user feedback, squashing bugs, and updating your features. Your developers can usually do all of this for you, but it won’t be free.  

Now, let’s talk about pricing. Ultimately, your total cost will depend more on your app’s size, features, and functionality than anything else. However, the costs of hiring a freelancer or development agency will add to the total price of building your mobile app.  

Hiring a Freelancer

When you hire a freelancer, you usually contract a single person to develop your app. You can find freelancers using platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and LinkedIn.  

Pros of hiring a freelancer: 

  • Since freelancers work for themselves and don’t have overhead costs associated with maintaining a team (salaries, team-management software, insurance, etc.), they are generally less expensive than agencies.
  • When you’re just working with one freelancer, you’ll most likely be in direct contact with that person. This means they won’t need to wait for other team members to provide you with updates about progress on your app, and you’ll (probably) be able to get questions answered faster.

Cons of hiring a freelancer: 

  • While you can find a freelancer who charges fees that are easy on your bank account, they might be in a different time zone entirely. This means you may be able to communicate with them directly but at odd hours, like early mornings or late evenings. 
  • Not all freelancers (especially the lower-cost ones) bring a thick portfolio of experience. While the freelancer you hire might be an expert at creating restaurant apps, they could have yet to gain experience building other types of apps, like the complex eCommerce one you want. It could take a long time to get the results you want.  
  • Estimated costs of hiring a freelancer: You can probably hire a freelancer for as little as $20/hr, but a freelancer with lower costs might also have less experience. This could be a problem. The average cost of a freelance app developer in the US is $61/hour.   

Using this rate, we’ll calculate rough estimates for apps with:

  • Very few features and functionalities: $6,000 to $15,999 
  • A moderate number of features and functionalities:  $16,999 to $36,999
  • Several features and complex functionalities: $37,000 to $65,000

Hiring an Agency 

Agencies are companies that have professional app-building teams. You can expect that several people will be working to develop your app when you hire an agency. 

Pros of hiring an agency:

  • In most cases, developing a complicated app won’t be an agency’s first rodeo. They’ll feature a seasoned team, with each member performing to a professional standard and bringing a certain level of experience and expertise to your project. You can expect a super-high level of professionalism. 
  • App development teams are used to working toward deadlines, so they won’t lose significant time when they hit speed bumps. An app development agency can most likely have your app ready to go in a reasonable amount of time.  

Cons of hiring an agency: 

  • Hiring great talent comes at a great cost, as top-notch app development agencies charge over $200/hour. If your app requires tons of work, you can expect to pay an app development agency in the $100,000s. 
  • While agencies will employ a team to build your app, they’ll most likely assign one dedicated account manager for communication. All communication will have to go through the account manager, lessening the chances that you’ll be able to speak directly to the people building your app. 

This makes miscommunication about how you want your app to appear more likely. 


Estimated costs of hiring an agency: Reputable agencies based in the US cost between $150 and $200 per hour. So, we’ll use the rate of $175/hour as a rough estimate to make apps with:

  • Very few features and functionalities: $17,500 to $35,999 
  • A moderate number of features and functionalities:  $36,000 to $75,999
  • Several features and complex functionalities: $76,000 to $200,000+

You can also find freelancers and agencies using Adalo, a powerful no-code mobile app builder, to develop your mobile app. Adalo developers must pass an application process, meaning they must bring high app development skills. However, their costs will vary. 

Average Costs to Build a Mobile App Yourself 

So, now you have a good ballpark figure of how much it will cost to hire a freelancer or agency to create a mobile app: As low as $6,000 to well over $100,000. Unless you’ve got a significant amount of cash backing you up or you’re Warren Buffet himself, outsourcing your app development will be expensive…yikes.

But there is a way to cut these costs down substantially: Build your app with a no-code app development platform like Adalo. 

When you use Adalo, you won’t need any programming or technical skills. Adalo leverages an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that functions like PowerPoint. Get started by choosing a premade template that comes with all the screens and features you need to build an app that matches your exact needs and tastes. 

And your bank account will thank you. Adalo’s cheapest plan starts at $36/month, and it lets you publish your app on the web, in the Apple App Store, and Google Play Store. Adalo comes with several pricing plans for simple budgeting:

  • Free Version: Publish your app to the web and accept payments with a Stripe integration. 
  • $36/month Starter Version: Everything in the free version and the ability to publish one app with 5GB of storage to the web and app stores. 
  • $52/month Professional Version: Get everything in the starter version and publish not 1 but 2 apps, get up to 25GB of storage and a geolocation feature, connect to Google Maps, and integrate with over 5,500 external third-party apps with a Zapier integration. 
  • $160/month Team Version: Publish up to 5 apps with 125 GB of storage and gather data from around the web with Adalo’s collection API, get a free integration with Xano, a powerful backend builder, plus everything you get in the professional version. 
  • $200/month Business Version: You’ll get everything in the Team Version, 500GB of storage, plus the ability to publish up to 10 different apps. 

Adalo gives you all the tools you need to breathe life into your app idea. Building with Adalo also gives you access to Adalo’s vibrant ecosystem, which provides you with tools, tutorials, and documents to guide you through your app-building journey. 

Factors Affecting Mobile App Costs

Whether or not you build your app using a no-code platform like Adalo or hire a development team, the following factors will play a pivotal role in determining how much it costs to develop your mobile app: 

  • Complexity: Simple apps, like a restaurant booking and ordering app, might only take around 100 hours to create. Complex social media apps that feature streaming, content sharing, and more will take up to 6 months to develop. 

    You can also build a super complex app all by yourself using Adalo, but it will take some time to learn how to implement some of the advanced features. The tradeoff, however, is that you’ll save $10,000s.  
  • The Development Platform (DIY, Freelancer, or Agency): Obviously, Adalo is by far the cheapest option for app development. The biggest cost is the time spent building. Freelancers and agencies will cost substantially more, starting at around $6,000. 

    Opting for a big agency that unleashes a team of developers will be the most expensive option, but these teams are usually reserved for only the most complex apps. Going this route can easily start at $75,000.  

    Keep in mind that some development teams are remote, with members spread out around the globe. Some development teams and freelance hail from parts of the world that provide cheaper services but keep language and time barriers in mind. 
  • App Maintenance: Remember, even after your app is published, you’ll need to maintain it. The freelancer or agency will most likely help you do so, but be prepared to fork out a few $1,000s. 

    If you built your app on Adalo, maintaining it is simple. You’ll be able to use Adalo’s app analytics feature to determine how fast your app loads, your app’s popularity, and more. 

    You’ll also be able to update the features you add to your app, such as implementing the newest version of a PDF reader plugin. 

Costs for Publishing Your Mobile App to the App Stores

One of the best ways to popularize your app is to publish it in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Both Apple and Google attract a combined total of nearly 5 billion monthly users. It goes without saying, but getting your app on these platforms can provide a little bit of traction. 

But publishing to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store isn’t free. Publishing to the Apple App Store is by far the most expensive, with an annual fee of $99. The Google Play Store, however, only charges a one-time fee of $25 to publish your app. 

How to Reduce Mobile App Development Costs

To save yourself time and money when developing your app, here are a few pointers you can follow:

  • Prioritize essential features: While having an app bursting at the seams with cool features like live streaming and an AI picture describer will make for a super powerful app, adding these on will be time consuming. If you hire a freelancer or agency, you’ll end up paying more. 

    A good rule of thumb is to include only the features your app needs. For instance, an ordering app might only need a payment integration, menu, and booking functionalities. Having more features will cost money, time, and may even confuse your users. Err on the side of simplicity! 
  • Involve quality assurance early on: Don’t just slap together your app in one go! After you finish building for the day, review and edit your work. Adalo has a “Preview App” function that lets you view and use your app as if it were live. 

    Taking advantage of this will allow you to fix problems early on, which is much easier than trying to overcome a mountain of glitches days before you want to publish. 

    While freelancers and agencies will have their own standard operating systems for ensuring quality, it’s a good idea to check in with them and ensure that the newest feature they built runs smoothly. Doing this could speed up your apps development, and save you some dough. 
  • Try to hit your short and long-term goals: Do this by effectively communicating these goals to your freelancer or agency. Want to have 4 features installed after 4 weeks? Make sure your developers know this.

    If you can, try to include your goals into the contract — this way the developers will be obligated to hit each one on time. 
  • Use Adalo to build your app: When you build your app with Adalo, you’ll be able to work at your own pace and set clear goals. And, you won't be charged extra if you don’t hit your goals. 

We can’t emphasize enough the enormous amount of money you’ll save by building your own app with Adalo. Using its lowest-level pricing tier only costs around $430 a year. 

Compare this with the lowest-priced freelancers, clocking in around $6,000 to finish your app (plus maintenance costs of a few $1,000s per year). It’s a no-brainer: Building your app with Adalo will save you tons of money. Plus, you’ll be able to take pride in the fact that you built your very own app all by yourself! 

Ultimately, the most cost-effective way to build your own mobile app is to create one yourself using Adalo. Sign up for Adalo’s generous free plan today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mobile App from Start to Finish? 

The cost of your app depends on whether you hire a freelancer or agency or decide to build it yourself. The number of features you want your app to have will also affect your app’s price — generally, the more features, the more expensive your app will be. 

Expect to pay at least $6,000 for a freelancer to build a simple app. If you’ve got a complex idea and opt to have an agency build your app, your costs can easily exceed $100,000. 

A cheaper option is to sign up with Adalo, a no-code mobile app-building platform that doesn’t require any coding or technical skill, and build your app yourself. You can get started with Adalo for $36/month. It doesn’t take the ability of a Harvard Math Professor to see Adalo’s cost advantage!  

How Long Does It Take to Build an App? 

The time it takes to build your app depends purely on its size and the features you want to include. For instance, building a simple ordering app for a cafe can take only a few days. 

However, if you want to make a specialized social media app for Pinot Noir lovers that allows for live streaming (for live wine reviews, of course!), photo sharing, people searching, and more, expect several months for app development. 

Can I Build a Mobile App Myself?

Use the powerful app-building platform Adalo to bring any app idea to life. You don’t need to know anything about coding or programming — you can start building your app right after creating an account using Adalo’s simple drag-and-drop interface.

Start Building With An App Template

Build your app fast with one of our pre-made app templates

Try It NOw