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Mobile Development: The process, stages, and costs

Mobile Development: The process, stages, and costs

Mobile development is booming more than ever in 2021, with over 3.8 billion smartphones, and 1.28 billion tablet users, worldwide.

Application use and mobile device penetration are still growing at a steady rate, with no signs of a slowdown shortly. Take a second to look away from your mobile device. You will notice that many people around you are staring at their gadgets. Studies show that smartphone users check their phones every 5 minutes and most of these interactions are unconscious.

Mobile development is the set of acts or processes and procedures involved in writing software for small wireless computing devices. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during platform manufacturing. They can be also delivered as web applications using server-side or client-side processing to provide “similar application” interaction in a web browser.Application software developers must also consider a wide range of screen sizes, hardware specifications, and configurations. It is due to the intense competition in mobile software and changes on each platform.

Mobile Application Platforms

Two major mobile platforms are:

1. iOS Mobile Development

Talking about the major mobile development platforms, iOS is the big fish. This superiority is partially related to the ability of this platform to modernize mobile development. It has also transformed mobile devices and software.

Everybody knows that Apple developed iOS. iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other Apple gadgets are some of the products of this company that iOS runs on them exclusively. But experts expect that more devices are yet to come that will run on the iOS platform in the next few years.

iOS platform shares some important infrastructures with OS X, and its user interface is based on Apple’s Cocoa user interface.

Cocoa is based on OS X, was changed to adapt touch devices. The developers of iOS can access some libraries for their development tasks.

You don’t necessarily have to apply tools provided by Apple to develop your applications. Though, accessing Mac operating system is essential.

Objective-C is usually the basis of iOS applications. They are also recently created by Swift, which is a great language for iOS development.

2. Android Mobile Development

Android is another major player in the field of mobile app development platforms. Android has entered the market a little bit later than iOS. About a year after iOS, the first Android was released in the summer, 2008. Though, Android managed to become a successful OS with a huge market share.

It is a mobile operating system that has most of the share in the mobile market. As assessed in January 2021, Android has kept its leading position with about 72 percent of the market share. While the market share of iOS is about 27 percent. These figures can be a little misleading, as Android is a disintegrated market.

It consists of various devices from many manufacturers running various operating system versions. The main development platform for Android mobile applications in Java.


Our century is the era of the heyday of mobile technology. It is impossible to imagine a person without a mobile device and even more so a business person.Mobile technologies are present in almost all business areas. Mobile ecosystems are evolving every day based on continuous experiments. Hundreds of applications are created daily for various purposes such as business, education, entertainment, etc. Each of these applications has a specific visual style and tone, depending on its direction and context.

But what does the process of developing mobile applications entail?

1. Idea

First of all, it is, of course, idea generation. The initial stage of mobile app idea generation is to carefully consider the meaning and purpose of the future mobile application.

Then, decide on the platform of your mobile application e.i., iOS/Android. As a rule, applications are recently written right away for both iOS and Android platforms at the same time. Though, unless it’s needed or urgent, the company’s specialists will help you choose the best mobile app platform. It starts by analyzing the market for supply/demand and competition.

2. Technical Requirements

Before starting the development, it is vital to comprehend the technical requirements of the customer. If there is no technical task, then the customer should at least fill out a brief. This stage is of particular importance as the technical task directly affects the technical features of the result. At this step must be agreed on the following points of work:

· A functional description of the mobile application;

· The terms of development;

· Financial costs and a model of the settlement procedure;

3. Prototyping

To understand how the user will work with the mobile application, creating a graphic map of the interaction between the various screens of the program. At this stage, developers map the development of almost all the functionality of the mobile application.

4. Development

Developers receiving technical tasks and application design mock-ups begin the development of the application.

In the development stage, the technology is determined. For example, developers may conclude that the app should be a native app or a cross-platform app. Their decision is based on the requirements defined in previous stages.

After that, they decide on the programming language. They determine whether to go with the flutter or react at this stage of the process.

5. Design

At the design stage, the UI experts determine the principle of the application the placement of functions and buttons on each of the screens. At this stage, perform:

· The application functionality;

· Schemes of application screens;

· The connection between the application screens and transitions through them;

All screens of the future application and various states for different use cases are designed in this stage. After the design concept is approved, internal buttons, icons, and other graphic elements are created.  As a rule, rendering the design of a mobile application involves usability research.

Usability research involves assuring that the developed design concept is as simple and convenient as possible and will help users solve tasks quickly.

Programmers “transform” a static picture into an interactive working model. Afterward, they are releasing the initial version of the application.

6. Testing 

The mobile application undergoes rigorous testing, creating a check table where all errors are indicated and described. In the application designing process, it is impossible to foresee all the errors of actual operation.

Developers prepare a list of errors, weaknesses, and shortcomings of the application. Then they fix all the bugs and release a new version. This process continues again and again until the testers will not indicate any errors.

7. Deploy

Next, the application is transferred to the Google Play and/or App Store for publication. Each application is reviewed by Google and Apple before publishing. Publishing to Google Play takes no more than a day, which of course significantly outperforms the App Store, where publishing the application takes at least 7 business days.

Next, developers upload the application to Google Play or App Store for publication. The application goes under a review stage by Google and Apple before publishing. Publishing to Google Play takes no more than a day. It significantly outperforms the App Store, publishing the application in at least seven business days.

8. Maintenance and update

After releasing the app in Google Play or App Store, bug fixes and application changes due to the business-related requirements happen to improve the app performance and/or profitability. 

How Much Does Mobile Development Cost?

The cost of mobile app development in 2021 can start from $30K.

It would be in the range of $30K to $50K per platform for basic applications, $70K to $100K per platform for platforms with a medium level of complexity.

There are also other complex multi-feature apps like Instagram and TikTok that typically cost over $150K to develop.

Generally, the following factors impact the mobile development cost:

· Type of mobile application such as basic apps (like clocks, calendar, etc.), gaming, social media, e-commerce, or educational apps.

· The number of functionalities of the app;

· The complexity of each functionality and whether it is a basic, medium, or a large app;

· Application design.

Many companies worldwide claim to be the best application developers and ensure that they will provide the best solution. There are some factors to consider when choosing a mobile app developer. The company can be experienced or ambitious, reliable or newly established, foreign or local, large or small, expensive or cheap. No doubt that such a complex decision can confuse not only beginners but also experienced entrepreneurs.

Some misunderstandings can lead to failure or unnecessary costs. A high price equals good quality, or young companies do not have enough experience to provide a high-quality product are examples of such misunderstandings.

Keeping this in mind, let’s return to an objective analysis of the costs of building the application. Our first step is to evaluate the cost of mobile development applications in terms of hourly pay. The hourly rate of mobile application development in 2021 can be in the ballpark of $40/hour.

Region Affects Costs

Another factor that impacts the average estimate of mobile development is the geographical location. So let’s take a quick look at the table for the geographical regions in mobile app development in 2021:

RegionDevelopment Cost ($/hour)
North America150-168
South America34-43
mobile app development cost in 2021
  • Mobile developers in Europe charge an average of $35 per hour.
  • The most expensive specialists located in North America can make about $168 per hour.
  • Mobile developers in Indonesia tend to charge from $11 to $12 per hour.
  • Australian experts usually charge an average of $110 per hour.
  • Mobile developers in India are charging their clients from $26 to $30 hourly.

Hidden Costs in App Development

There are also some hidden costs to mobile application development that should be considered in budgeting. The hidden costs include:

1. App store fees

To release an app in Google Play you should pay a $25 registration fee. For iOS developers, the fee equals $99 per app.

There are also other hidden costs in this category that include the extra yearly charges and transaction fees.

2. Storage Costs

Depending on what kind of app you are developing, you may have to pay a large amount of money to store user data. For example, if your app requires you to keep a large volume of user photos and videos, then calculate the relative cloud date storage cost in your budget.

3. Maintenance Costs

Mobile app maintenance costs account for about 20% of the development cost.

4. Promotional Costs

Just developing and publishing an app on app stores doesn’t guarantee users will notice and download them. You have to implement promotional strategies based on thorough market research.


To find an answer to this question, we need to understand that not all mobile applications are the same. And inequality lies not only in the platform for which it is designed. Reducing the development time of applications for Android, as well as for iOS, is considered the time necessary to implement certain functions of the application. Therefore, we have determined three classifications based on moderate needs over time.

  1. The basic application is an application with simple functionality, the development of which requires about 500-700 hours.
  2. An application of medium complexity takes from 700 to 1000 hours.
  3. A complex, time-consuming application in most cases exceeds 1200 hours for development.


When you establish the developing process of mobile application, you cannot expect your software company to immediately inform you of the estimated cost. There is no price list for mobile development, it all depends on various factors. Of course, before the invoice is sent to you, the development team will calculate how many hours it took to implement your specifications. However, the most significant factors affecting the average cost of application development are:

  • Functionality and features
  • Visual design customization
  • Platforms (iOS/Android or both)
  • Backend Infrastructure and application administration
  • Location and structure of the development team
  • Application maintenance costs

Functionality and features 

If you want to answer how much mobile development costs, you should estimate how complicated your future application will be.

The functionality, number, and complexity of the implemented functions mainly affect the price of app development.

Buttons, screens, fields, the amount of logic required are of high importance. Well, it’s time to find out what features affect the complexity of the entire application.As mentioned earlier, the implementation of some functions can take significantly longer than other relatively simple apps. Developers have to use a third-party programming tool or code from scratch, depending on the complexity of the functions. Therefore, easier solutions, in turn, require standard tools and use their features.

Feature Description Approx time Approx cost 
Login– Login with email
– Login with social media
– Forgot password option
– Log out
28 – 42 hours$1400 – $2100
– Upload photo
– Upload video
– Video playback
– Photo view
20 – 30 hours $1000 – $1500
– Set region
– Add info
– Add photo
23 – 29 hours $1150 – $1450

– Edit profile
– Change password
– Change email
– Add/remove
credit card
47 – 62 hours $2350 – $3100
Search – Basic search
with suggestions
13 – 18 hours $650 – $900
– Conversation details
– Online/offline status
– Typing status
– Read/sent status
– Send media files
and documents
160 – 170 hours $8000 – $8500
– Users can receive
push notifications
25 – 32 hours $1250 – $1600
– See a list of users
– Edit user
– Delete/block user
– Create user
66 – 90 hours $3300 – $4500
– See payments
– Refund payments
23 – 44 hours $1150 – $2200
– Send custom
push notifications
8 – 14 hours $400 – $800
Map – Detect user’s location
– Search on the map
– Set pickup point
on the map
75 – 111 hours 75 – 111 hours
Payments – See balance
– List of transactions
– Add card Add PayPal
60 – 78 hours $3000 – $3900
Streaming – Start/stop broadcast
– View broadcast
– Switch between
90 – 140 hours $4500 – $7000
Calls – Audio calls
– Video calls
– List of contacts
257 – 365
$12850 –

Besides, quite often you can make some unexpected changes during the development process. That’s why you need to consider these costs and plan a budget with an added line of expenses. So, how much does it cost to develop mobile applications with desired features? Check the table and count an approximate budget for your mobile application.

Customization of Visual Design

Creating a unique user interface design is a complex undertaking that demands additional costs for your mobile application. A cheaper option is to use the OS-supplied elements and screens from standard elements. The number of screens is also an important factor.


Are you thinking of developing a mobile application on the Android platform? Or maybe you want it to work on iOS as well? Therefore, you should know the cost of developing applications for Android and iOS.

When deciding on the platform to start with, application owners consider such factors as market share, device fragmentation, and prevalence. The most significant difference is that the development of mobile applications for each of these platforms is different. They employ various programming languages, SDKs, and development tools.

There is a question – is there any price difference in developing mobile applications for iOS or Android? Actually, no.

If you are developing an application for one of these platforms, there are no significant differences in the cost of creating applications for Android and iOS. But if you want your mobile application to run on two or more platforms, be prepared to pay more.

Backend Infrastructure and Application Administration

In mobile application development, the backend part is usually an OS that provides developers with APIs for exchanging data between application and database.

It is equipped with analytics to track user activity and evaluate the performance of your consumer application. The cost depends on the number of parameters you track and how detailed and specific the tracking will be.

The administration panel, of course, is a beneficial tool for managing application content, users, and statistics. There are options for adapting existing admin panel templates to your needs, but finding the good is a problem. Therefore, it makes sense to create an adequate panel that meets your business requirements.


As previously mentioned, the location of the development team affects the final price of a product. Creating an application in the UK will cost differently from developing it in the United States and other regions.

The below tables shows how the hourly rates of each expert differ as per geographical region:

Title of EmployeeUkraineWestern EuropeEastern EuropeNorth America
Business Analyst$30 – $50$55 – $80$35-$45$60-$75
Architect$35 – $65$90 – $120$40-$70$90-$130
Project Manager$30 – $40$55 – $65$35-$45$90-$115
Jr. Developer$20 – $40$40 – $50$25-$35$50-$70
Mid-Level Developer$25 – $50$45 – $65$30-$40$60-$80
Sr. Developer$35-$60$65 – $80$40-$50$75-$105
Lead Developer$35 – $65$70 – $90$40-$55$90-$115
Junior QA$15 – $25$35 – $45$20-$30$45-$60
Mid-Level QA$25-$35$45 – $55$30-$40$60-$75
Senior QA$44 – $69$143 – $169$25-$40$123-$156
Graphic Designer$30 – $45$50 – $65$35-$45$75-$90

The Maintenance of the Mobile Application

The last but not least point to keep in mind is how much it costs to support the application. In many cases, the cost of servicing the application can range from 15% to 20% of the initial development cost.

Maintenance of the application is a mandatory service, even if you do not have plans to expand and add new features to the application. The maintenance of the mobile application includes the following:

· Bug fixing;

· Optimization of the stability and performance;

· Code improving;

· Adding support for latest OS versions;

· Integrate new features;

· Support the latest versions of other services;


Want to create a mobile application but don’t know where to start?

We will take care of all the stages of mobile application development. Our professional programmers will “transform” your idea into an interactive working model. We have solid experience in Android and iOS app development, so you shouldn’t worry about anything.

Contact us, and we will provide you with all the details: 


(447) 366-491-118 

Contact us and we will provide you with all the details 


(447) 366-491-118 

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