14 Jul iOS App Development: Cost of Developing an iPhone App

Cost of Developing an iPhone App

The World is going mobile, there is no doubt about it. Users accessing the Internet via smartphones have already outnumbered those using desktops in the year 2014, and now this stat is growing exponentially. Over 51.7 percent of Internet users, presently, are on smartphones over only the 43.6 percent that are on desktop. And to add more maths to this already mind-boggling set, the contribution of iPhone users in this ratio is that of 17.9 percent!

Understanding the significance of iOS app development is a no-brainer now. If you do not want to miss such a large percent of your target audience, then investing in iOS app is a must for your digital growth. So now, let’s get down to the business and calculate the estimated amount of investment.

Estimating the investment amount for iOS app development is completely contextual. Multiple factors will be required to be put into the consideration, including your requirement on its performance and security, while calculating the estimate.

Think of it in terms of a movie development. You can make a movie with almost no expenses at all, ask a few of your friends to play the characters, borrow a handy camera and roll it in your living room, no sweat at all. However, most of the movies you consider worth watching have their budget ranging over hundreds of million dollars. Even those short animated movies you find on YouTube take thousands of bucks before being released. In the end, it all boils down to your budget, expectations, and definitely the type and complexity of the app, that will determine the actual investment amount.

1. Basic App: These are the apps that provide simple static information, through a well categorized layout. Simple links will be placed on the screen, usually in a tabular or listed manner, and users will be redirected to different segments of information by clicking on them. Such apps, assuming you don’t want to lose on their quality, credibility, and performance, will cost you around $8000 to $12,000. This cost can be further reduced if you provide the developer firm with all the data and Photoshop graphics for screenshots and app icon.

2. Multi-user apps: These are the apps that will require at least one additional functionality over a simple/informative app, the functionality of logging in. This one basic requirement makes the apps’ data dynamic and hence its connection with database essential. Multi-user apps are among the most popular apps as well. Your favorite social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Tinder, are all multiuser apps.

More often than not, if you are investing in that additional login functionality, chances are the app will give access to the users to interact with each other, and in real time too. This increases the complexity of the app multi-fold and, thence, its cost of development. Furthermore, seeing the rising competition in this particular app market, it is becomes crucial to offer nothing but the best user experience. With all this in due consideration, simplest of such apps may cost you up to $39,200. However, with the increase in complexity, number of users and additional features like in-app purchases, this price may raise up to over $90,000.

3. Productivity apps: Apps like Evernote, DropBox, Google Docs, etc. are the popular examples of productivity apps that also simplify the category’s purpose. Built to simplify the tasks of users by aiding them with automation and organization of important data, these apps can support the complexities of the multi-user category. Depending on this one complexity along with the others mentioned above, the cost of iOS productivity apps ranges from $14,000 to $28,000.

4. Shopping apps: A remarkably more complex class of multi-user app category, shopping apps have brought a new term in the already burgeoning Internet Glossary- ‘M-commerce’ or mobile commerce. These apps are effectively revolutionizing the eCommerce market, bringing an unforeseen growth in the sector. Inarguably, these are also among the most complex and critical apps, that are being developed at present. The complexity of the app is the product of its requirement for API or (Application Programming Interface), payment gateways, multiple real-time dynamic fields, and need of security in transactions. With these additional but necessary features, the price of such apps ranges from $15,000 to $65,000. Of course, with more additional requirement, in terms of functionality or design, this price can be further increased.

5. Business Management Apps: These apps are designed to aid the management in various business and executive processes that takes place within an organization on a regular basis. Prominent examples of business processes or management apps are documents and accounts management apps, logistics and customer relationship system, etc. The purpose of such apps is to increase the overall productivity of an organization by automating the managerial functions. Mostly, such apps are utilitarian with minimal designing aspects. However, special attention is paid to the smooth performance of the app along with robust and secure interface. Normally the development cost of business management apps ranges from $20,000 to $150,000, but in case of specific advanced features, it can rise up to $1,000,000.

6. Gaming apps: iOS games are among the toughest and hence the costliest of the apps developed. This fact is deduced out of the process of gaming apps development that requires contribution from designers, programmer, gaming concept artists, and animators. The biggest factor that brings variation in the cost of development is definitely about the type of game, i.e., whether it is a 2D or a 3D game. Most 2D games (including both puzzle and adventure games) require only the investment around $50,000 up to $150,000, whereas, this range for 3D games begins from $150,000 and goes up to $500,000. The more complexities are there in the gaming concept and designing, the costlier will be the development. Furthermore, adding features like location tracking, real-time image generation, multi-player setting, etc., will also contribute remarkably to the determination of the actual cost.

This is how the type of app brings variation in the development cost. However, this is not the only factor. Another important determinant in the estimation is the app design. Though we have brought some insights on how display can affect the cost of app development in the gaming apps section, here’s a detailed estimate about it.

  • Simple layout that is mostly used to display static information with no reliance on database is definitely the cheapest app design you can find. These designs do not usually cost anything more than $2500, assuming that you have presented a clear image of your requirement, to the developer. This price, however, may go up a little if you want your app to operate on the devices with retina display. This way the range for simply designed iOS is estimated to be around $500 to $10,000.
  • Apps with simple layout do not really have much of an impact on the overall cost but add complexity and creativity to your app design, and you’ll see how significant this determinant can be.
  • Another factor that affects the desiging cost significantly is the dimension of the devices’ screen. For instance, most iPhone apps come around the aforementioned price range, but if the same app is to be developed for iPhone 7 Plus, the cost will rise by 25% to accommodate to the higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
  • Similarly, building apps that are compatible with the latest iPads like Apple iPad Air 2, which has a retina display with screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, can cost you 50% more than what regular iPhone apps do.

With these factors in mind, you can hand-over the complete project, including the development and designing both, to a developer firm; you can segregate these two processes by hiring a web designer or a freelance app designer, and a developer. In the latter scenario, the designer will send you a package of files that will include .png and .psd files of icons, images used in the design, and screenshots, which then you can send to the developers.

Overall cost in both the cases is roughly the same. However, having your app designed and developed by the same iPhone app development company will support the integration process, that may bring some hurdles if you segregate and then integrate the both processes. However, if you have a contact with a great designer, or you already have the design developed in-house, you can always use the latter approach, that will significantly reduce the overall cost.


Now, you know how the design and complex concept brings far-fledging variations in the cost of iOS app development. These price ranges, however, are quite variable and depends primarily on your specific requirements.

For instance, you can find some app solutions by spending only as much as a thousand dollars by hiring the services of a development student, whereas a firm may charge a quarter of a million dollars from you for the very same product. Many factors like risk involvement, quality, marketing experience etc. should be given utmost considerations in such matters.

Apart from these variable variables, other fixed variables that add to the total cost of investment include the charges of Apple-specific features like in-app purchases, share capabilities, Game Center, and the annual charge of $99 by the firm. Please note that Apple also charges 30% on each sale that you will make via the app. Apart from this there are absolutely no hidden charges that you may have to worry about. And this sums up your investment on iOS app development.

Now, consider all these factors, do your market research, make an ROI strategy, and then, finally, go for it. Just one final reminder, mobile apps are no longer the future, they are the present (pun intended), both for the businesses and the users.

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