The Cost of iOS App Development: Factors, Trends, and Budgeting Tips
According to Statista‘s research, internet consumers spent approximately $83 billion on mobile applications from the Apple App Store in 2022. In comparison, Google Play Store visitors spent only $41 billion during the same period. Experts predict a much more significant increase in smartphone app expenses from 2023 to 2027, especially for apps operating on the iOS operating system, given the high popularity of Apple products.
Considering the widespread popularity of Apple devices, it’s not surprising that many businesspeople are considering creating useful applications for iPhones. One of the first questions for those looking to develop mobile solutions is: “How does the iOS App Store development cost?”
At GetTrusted, we have conducted comprehensive research on the costs of developing applications for iPhone. This article will provide valuable information about the factors determining cost and advantageous collaboration options with iOS developers. Additionally, we have compiled tips for effectively allocating expenses for creating an iPhone application and much more.
Estimating the Cost of iOS App Development
Without specifying the requirements and details of your project, it is nearly impossible to provide an exact cost estimate. The app development price depends on many factors, including the location of the hired IT team. However, you can outline the average cost of creating an iOS application, which ranges from $10,000 to $250,000.
If you need a simple program with minimal features and a templated design, you can expect a lower price. Conversely, solutions with diverse functionality, exclusive visuals, and integration with third-party resources can cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How Difficult Is It to Build an App?
Creating a successful business application for iOS can be financially and labor-intensive for several reasons:
- Complexity of the app: Smartphone apps can vary in complexity, including:
- Simple apps with basic features and user interface solutions, created typically in 2-4 months.
- Medium-level apps may include chat features, integration with third-party APIs, multiple screen options for various devices, and customizable user interfaces. Development time is typically 6-10 months.
- Complex, multifunctional applications with advanced features, real-time messaging, animated user interfaces, and multiple API integrations. Developing such programs can take 8-12 months or more.
- Complexity design: To make your iOS app attractive and user-friendly, it’s essential to invest time and resources in UI/UX design and branding. Here are more details on these cost categories:
- User Experience (UX) focuses on ensuring ease of use for end-users and their quick achievement of desired results. UX design includes button placement, color choices, and screen text.
- User Interface (UI) is responsible for the appearance of your product and incorporates various visual and animation effects to enhance user engagement.
- Branding includes creating and placing your brand’s emblems/symbols within the app. To make your application recognizable in the Apple App Store, it’s important to develop a concise icon consistent with your brand’s style.
- Platform choice: The average iOS app development cost is also influenced by the platform type on which it will be launched. You have two options:
- Cross-platform app: Created for multiple operating systems, it can effectively run on iOS and Android. If your business goals target users on both platforms, this hybrid approach can be more financially advantageous.
- Native application: Works only on one platform, either iOS or Android. If you aim to have two identical apps for different OSs, be prepared for the development cost to double, as you’ll need to hire two separate IT teams.
iOS App Development Cost According to App Scale
To find out the price for creating a digital product for the iPhone, during the planning stage, determine its size. The larger the application, the more features you can incorporate. Additionally, larger solutions require significant time investment, which also increases the project’s cost. Let’s consider three options for iOS programs based on their size.
Small-Scale iPhone App Development Cost
On average, working on a small mobile product typically takes two to four months. This is because minimal requirements are set for features, design, and the number of screens. The development process is cost-effective and divided into standard stages:
- Prototyping – $500-2,000.
- UI/UX design – $1,500-3,000.
- Frontend/backend development – $3,000-6,000.
- Testing and quality assurance (QA) – $1,000-3,000.
- App Store submission – $100-300.
The total cost of creating a basic iOS app ranges from $6,000 to $15,000.
Medium-Scale iOS App Development Cost
A medium-scale project has slightly more features and screens and may involve integration with external services. Therefore, you’ll need four to eight months to get a finished product. Accordingly, the prices for the work stages will be higher:
- Creating screen maps with navigation between them (wireframing) and prototyping – $2,000-3,500.
- UI/UX design – $2,000-5,000.
- Frontend Development – $5,000-10,000.
- Backend Development – $3,000-5,000.
- Integration – $1,500-3,000.
- Testing and QA – $2,000-4,000.
- App Store submission – $100-300.
The average cost of medium-sized iOS app development ranges from $15,000 to $31,000.
Large-Scale iOS App Development Price
Large, multifunctional applications have complex internal infrastructure and support connections with multiple external resources. They can be developed for eight months to several years. Let’s look at the step-by-step pricing for implementing such projects:
- Prototyping and wireframing – $2,500-5,000.
- UI/UX development – $4,000-15,000.
- Frontend/backend creation – $19,000-40,000.
- API Integration – $3,000-7,000.
- Quality assurance and testing – $2,500-7,000.
- App Store submission – $100-300.
The prices for developing a large-scale product for iOS smartphones range from $32,000 to $75,000 and beyond.
Factors Influencing App Development Costs
In addition to the scale, the cost of creating an application for Apple smartphones is also influenced by many other aspects. Therefore, you should consider all of them when consulting with developers and preparing a project estimate.
The level of complexity depends not only on the number of features and the implementation of additional capabilities but also on the type of the program itself. For example, applications for sharing services (food delivery or ride-sharing) are among the most expensive. They are powered by complex algorithms since they work with real-time data and must provide seamless interaction with users.
Expensive applications also include e-commerce apps. The need to implement payment gateways, product browsing features, order tracking, and more increases expenses. On the other hand, the cheapest programs are those for viewing information and contacts with a simple user interface.
Design and User Interface
The cost is also influenced by how you want to design your product. Working on an attractive visual design and user-friendly navigation requires more time and, consequently, more money. If you emphasize an exclusive design tailored to your business, it will also increase the overall development cost.
You can reduce visual and UI design costs by using ready-made templates. This way, you’ll cut down on the budget but may lose some uniqueness in your product. However, if an individual design is not a key advantage of your project, template solutions can be an excellent choice.
Features and Functionality
The more features, the more expensive the development. This rule applies to almost all digital products, and iOS applications are no exception. To create a financially viable and useful project, analyze the features that can be implemented and choose only the most important ones for you.
If you need to include many mandatory options in your product, set the right priorities. Add essential features at the early stages of development and additional ones at later stages. This way, you’ll reduce the initial work costs and be able to allocate the budget correctly in the future.
Integration with Backend Systems
Typically, working with the backend involves developing API connections that link external elements of the application with its internal infrastructure. To ensure smooth data transmission, thus improving the program’s performance, you need to hire experienced specialists. They will help you integrate databases, inventory management systems, and other services. Performing such tasks also increases the iOS app development cost.
Third-Party API Integration
You may also need third-party API integrations. For example, you can integrate your mobile solution with social networks, Google Maps, or online payment gateways. All of this increases the developers’ work time, which adds to the cost of their services. Additionally, when integrating third-party APIs, it’s important to consider the purchase of licenses or usage fees, which also add to your project’s costs.
App Testing and Quality Assurance
Experts recommend not skimping on the testing stage because the timely detection of issues affects the stability and performance of the created product. Quality assurance helps you obtain a reliable application that quickly and correctly fulfills user requests, thus increasing its value to users. Moreover, the earlier errors are found in the program, the cheaper it will be to fix them.
App Maintenance and Updates
When preparing an estimate for developing an iPhone application, you need to consider its maintenance costs and release of updates. Technical support for the finished product is an important component that ensures its relevance, security, performance, and compatibility with the latest versions of the iOS operating system.
Expenses for hiring an IT team can both increase and reduce the overall budget. The reason is that the prices for developers’ services depend on their qualifications, experience, location, and other factors. The higher the expertise of the specialist, the more expensive but higher the quality of their work will be. Additionally, you can choose a team from “low-cost regions” for cost savings, but we’ll discuss this in more detail below.
Deadlines set with consideration of the complexity of a particular task can help reduce your expenses. In the case of tight deadlines for releasing an iOS application and rushed work by specialists, you risk overlooking errors. This can lead to the need to redo the finished product, which is a costly process.
Many IT companies use an iterative approach. This means that development is done in parallel with analyzing results and making changes in subsequent stages of work. This way, time (and therefore money) is significantly reduced for refining individual functions or integrations.
App Monetization Strategy
In the Apple App Store, 94.2% of all applications are free, and only 5.8% are paid. If you want to attract more users, create a free-to-download app. To generate revenue, implement one or several monetization models: in-app purchases, advertising, subscriptions, and the like. Keep in mind that adding any monetization model increases the overall development cost. However, a well-chosen monetization method ensures long-term profitability.
App Store Submission
Placing the finished product in the App Store will cost approximately $100-300. Your program must go through the review process to meet Apple’s requirements. Therefore, you need to prepare the appropriate documentation and description of the application. It’s better to entrust this work to specialists with experience submitting programs to the store. This way, you’ll spend slightly more but avoid rejection by the administration.
Post-launch support will help you handle feedback and recommendations from initial users. Based on this information, specialists will assist in selecting suitable options to improve the user experience, making your application more valuable and useful to customers.
The Cost of iOS Application Development Services Depending Development Team Sizes
The number of hired specialists and their skill level directly impact the cost of iOS app development. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the composition of teams of different sizes and their approximate hourly rates.
Small team (3-4 people)
Typically, a team of 3-4 hired specialists is excellent for working on small programs with standard functionality and design. Traditionally, such a team consists of:
- 1-2 iOS developers
- UI/UX designer
- Project manager
The average hourly rate for each specialist ranges from $80 to $120. They handle basic requirements well and ensure efficient management of your project.
Medium team (5-10 people)
A team of 5-10 specialists will provide you with the development of a medium-level application with advanced features and more complex requirements. It includes:
- 2-4 iOS developers
- 1-2 UI/UX designers
- Project manager
- 1-3 QA specialists
They possess a broader range of skills and knowledge, so their hourly rate is between $100 and $150.
Large team (10+ people)
The best option for creating a large-scale project. Such a team of specialists allows you to implement numerous functions, additional features, and third-party integrations. They also help develop a reliable internal infrastructure that supports the application’s stable operation and high performance. Typically, a large team includes:
- 5+ iOS developers
- 2-3 UI/UX designers
- 1-2 Project managers
- 2-3 QA specialists
In addition, such teams have their own resources for expediting development and a high level of expertise. Therefore, their hourly rate can reach $150-250.
Cost of Developing an iOS App with Payment Gateway Integration
Whether it’s a gaming, educational, or business application, you may need to integrate a payment gateway. It is necessary for online payments and when implementing a monetization model through in-app purchases. You can solve this issue in two ways:
- Standard integration of a payment gateway: This is most often used for simple iOS applications and involves using one of the most popular gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, and others. The cost of integration and setup will range from $1,000 to $5,000.
- Advanced integration of a payment gateway: This is used for complex applications that require a custom solution for online payments. Adding a specialized payment gateway, configuring it, and performing advanced integration will cost you between $5,000 and $20,000.
Comparison of Costs Depending on the iOS App Developer Hiring Model
One factor that influences the native iOS app development cost is the method of hiring developers. Three common options are often used: freelancers, in-house teams, and offshore specialists. Each has advantages, cost considerations, and suitability for creating specific types of applications.
This hiring type is optimal for developing a product from scratch or designing specific components. You can supplement your team with a needed specialist by reviewing resumes on freelance platforms. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not always possible to ensure the reliability and professionalism of the hired freelancer.
Hourly rates for freelancers can vary depending on the task’s complexity:
- Creating a simple application: $35-80 per hour
- Developing a medium to large project: $90-120 per hour
This option involves creating your own team of in-house IT specialists. Finding and hiring suitable developers can take much time and financial resources. You must provide office space, purchase software and hardware, handle all necessary employment paperwork, and take responsibility for salaries, sick leave, and vacation pay.
The expenses for in-house developers vary depending on their qualifications, responsibilities, and project complexity. On average, salaries for different specialists are approximately:
- $180,000 per year for a full-stack developer
- $160,000 per year for a designer
- $170,000 per year for an iOS developer
The resource expenses for forming an internal team will be justified if you plan to develop a large application that requires the following:
- Constant scalability
- Frequent updates
- Regular addition of new features
- High-level security
- Ongoing technical support after release
- Full ownership of the product and control over its management.
Offshore Development Companies
This approach allows you to hire a cohesive team of developers from another country. The offshore company manages equipment and technology, coordinates communication between specialists, and ensures all necessary working conditions are provided.
The main advantages are that hourly rates differ from region to region, and you can choose the most cost-effective option. Additionally, all technical responsibilities for creating the application are handed over to experienced specialists. The GetTrusted platform provides you with a list of the best licensed IT contractors worldwide.
Hiring an offshore development company can address your needs for the following:
- Creating a corporate or large-scale iOS application
- Finding and attracting talented specialists
- 24/7 support
- Cost savings on the overall development project
- Freeing up time for more critical business tasks
Offshore developers are the best choice for developing large-scale and moderately complex projects and in cases where you lack the funding to assemble an in-house team.
iOS App Development Cost Breakdown
According to the stages, the iOS app development cost breakdown allows for a more detailed examination of the pricing process.
Business Analysis and Idea Generation
The first stage in working on any application is to create a clear and understandable concept. If you have an idea, it needs to be structured so that developers can grasp the essence and offer you the most efficient implementation options.
Additionally, before starting work on the project, it is necessary to conduct market research and study your potential users, competitors, and their solutions. At this stage, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a business analyst. This way, you’ll obtain the most accurate analysis upon which the development roadmap will be based.
The average cost of business analysis is around $50-350.
Scale and Functionality of the iOS App
Defining the scope, core, and additional functions of the product, API integration, tech stack, and more play an important role at the beginning of development. You need a consultation with an expert to create an effective implementation strategy for the application. Furthermore, considering the earlier results of analyzing the needs of your target audience, your team will have a precise understanding of the key criteria for creating a useful and in-demand product.
The average cost of research is $100-350.
iOS App Design and User Interface
UI/UX design defines the overall style of your digital product and determines how users will achieve their desired goals. The simpler and more user-friendly your program is, the more likely it will gain popularity. Therefore, designers initially develop rough sketches of screens, wireframes, and navigation options for the application. Subsequently, work is done on the visual elements, including defining the color palette, style, and font size and creating and refining the user interface layouts.
The cost of creating a UX design ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. Developing UI design will cost approximately $1,000-5,000.
Testing and Ongoing Maintenance
The success of your application depends on how accurately and quickly it fulfills users’ requests. A low-performing program with usability issues can nullify all your previous development efforts. Therefore, testing and quality assurance are essential components of the work that are best not to skimp on.
After completing the development of the application, you will also need regular updates to keep it current and functioning correctly on the latest iOS versions. Therefore, maintenance services are also a mandatory item in the project budget.
The cost of a tester/QA specialist’s services is $2,000-7,000. Plus, ongoing technical support costs $250-500 per month.
Location of Developers
Depending on the location of offshore developers and freelancers, the prices for their services vary. This is due to different tax burdens, the cost of living, and the economic situation in the country, but not necessarily the experience or qualifications of the specialists.
Hourly rates can differ from country to country:
- USA – $120-150;
- Australia – $100-120;
- UK – $100-120;
- Ukraine – $30-100;
- India – $20-40.
When hiring an internal team, you should base your decisions on the average local salaries for IT specialists.
Determining the exact custom iOS app development cost is quite challenging because it depends on numerous factors, including the project’s complexity and type, functionality, design, the number of integrations, the composition of the development team, the hiring method, location, tech stack, and more.
To obtain the most accurate cost estimate, it’s best to consult with experts. Our platform for finding IT contractors features only verified specialists who can provide comprehensive consulting and unique iOS app development services.
Not sure where to start your search for the right IT team? GetTrusted consultants are ready to assist you!