The question of costs rises once you’ve decided to build an app. The iOS app development costs vary considerably, ranging from $40,000 to $730,000. The level of app complexity is the major factor that explains such a wide range. Other considerations that may also affect your expenses include developers’ hourly rates and the type of a targeted iOS mobile device.
Knowing what affects the final cost of app development is essential for making informed decisions and not ending up paying 10 times more than expected. JatApp has been building iOS mobile apps since 2015 and we’d like to share our expertise in iOS app development cost estimation accumulated during all these years.
iOS app development cost breakdown
When planning the budget for your app, you’ll need to take into account several factors: app complexity, which includes different features depending on the app category, type of the device you’ll focus on (iPhone or iPad), as well as developers’ hourly rates.
Different app categories may require you to develop a different set of features. Notably, some features tend to cost considerably more than the others, which cannot but influence the final price of an app. Let’s discuss the most popular App Store categories to learn more about relevant functionality and the approximate development price.
Most popular App Store categories by share
As of 2023, the market share of business mobile apps accounts for 10.7% of all Apple’s App Store apps. These applications help businesses streamline and improve their performance. Examples of business solutions include tools for networking, online billing, project management, and the like.
HotSchedules is currently the most popular paid business app on the App Store. This product helps workers and managers organize their work schedules and keep the lines of communication open with each other. The solution notifies employees in case there are any changes approved by a manager.
HotSchedules app functionality
Third-party integration with the calendar, notifications, and one-to-one messaging are the features that have some of the biggest impact on the final cost. For example, the messaging feature alone can cost around $2,000, if not more.
HotSchedules messaging feature
After the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, e-learning apps have gained massive popularity worldwide. When schools and universities closed their doors, educational apps provided a viable alternative to classroom learning. According to Statista, the educational iOS apps remain one of the most downloaded ones, with a 8.66% share of all App Store apps.
Features of these applications can be quite basic and include registration, search, user profile, chats, assessment, and similar. Educational apps should also include lessons, practical assignments and learning materials. Any additional functionalities would translate into extra expenses. Payment integration, for example, may take nearly 120 hours of development, and you may have to spend up to $8,000 for this single feature.
As an example, SkyView is one of the top-rated educational iOS apps. It’s an augmented reality (AR) application that invites users to point their smartphones’ cameras at the night sky to uncover planets, stars, and constellations. Children can learn interesting facts about asteroids, comets, and planets, transforming stargazing into a learning experience.
SkyView app functionality
The use of AR technology in educational apps is commonplace today. Since AR software developers have the highest rates in the United States, the cost to build an iOS app with this technology can be literally sky-high. Besides, an app like SkyView must also have notifications to keep users in the loop about the upcoming stargazing events, which adds a few thousands dollars to the final price.
Many educational applications also have a gamification element to increase students’ interest and engagement. One of our clients, Pre-Quest, is no exception in this regard. The startup developed a mobile app with gamification features to help 6-7th grade students pass the ISEB test. When students successfully complete the test, they earn trophies and badges that motivate them to study harder. Users can also compete with each other by tracking peers’ achievements on the leaderboard.
Pre-Quest gamification feature
Many educational platforms have two internal panels for students to access the materials and for tutors to provide learning instructions. Some e-learning solutions, like the abovementioned Pre-Quest, allow parents to create their own accounts to check on the academic results of their children.
Naturally, the development cost rises, as you need to deliver two panels with absolutely different functionalities and UX/UI app designs. The average cost of developing a multi-user iOS app with complex features, such as gamification, starts around $60,000.
This app category covers different target audiences with various hobbies and habits. Whether a user likes to read their horoscopes or check their water balance daily, there’s a mobile app that caters to their needs. The market share of lifestyle apps is also impressive and makes up for 8.58% of all products on the App Store.
Puppy Calmer is a perfect example of an iOS app in this category. The solution was initially developed to soothe newborns but was later rebranded to focus on making puppies less nervous at night. Puppy Calmer allows dog owners to turn on sounds that simulate the heartbeat of a puppy’s mother. The calming music can be set to play for 10-120 minutes. This is a simple app that has only three main features: play, pause, and timer. The cost to build such an app usually starts from $25,000.
Puppy Calmer app functionality
The project we were glad to work on, is a more complex app in this category. It’s an AI-driven tool used for identifying plants. The app allows users to sign in with Apple ID, communicate 24/7 with botanists, get notified to timely care for their plants, and even consult a lunar calendar for more tips. It took us four months to develop this app from scratch.
The app’s functionality
Whether this is a solution for reading books or scrolling through videos, entertainment mobile apps have conquered the market, gaining a 5.63% market share. Basic iOS applications can take around three months and cost $25,000 on average. But keep in mind that more development time always means greater project costs.
TikTok has become the most popular free app on the App Store, generating a mind-melting $4.6 billion of revenue in the previous year. This platform implies mainly video sharing, chats, and comments. This functionality requires the back-end infrastructure to be able to process lots of data. That’s why building a TikTok-like app may cost you up to $300,000.
TikTok app functionality
However, making a clone of TikTok is not likely to result in greater success. Your solution needs to have a unique selling proposition to attract potential customers. The JatApp team has worked on an entertainment application that also has a social media app concept. 2BeAdventurous is an iOS travel tracking tool that allows users to share their location, add photos from their adventures, like and comment on each other, indicate the selected means of transport, and even get notified when your friends move to another country.
2BeAdventurous app functionality
The application is integrated with Apple Maps to show users’ real time travel routes. The cost of developing this feature alone is around $1,200-2,500. Besides, our developers used Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) to add push notifications in the app. 2BeAdventurous doesn’t have a large number of integrations, but has a wide range of features, which raises the app development costs. The price for such iOS apps ranges from $50,000 to $200,000.
Type of the device
The app development price will heavily depend on the type of the iOS device for which you develop an iOS solution. The matter is that iPad and iPhone are entirely different beasts, with different sizes of the screen. The iPad has a larger screen and therefore can include more UI elements. The added screen space means 50% higher costs compared to the iPhone, since designers need to spend more time creating an app.
Based on your app category, you might want to focus on designing solutions for either iPhones or iPads. For instance, Google Maps are downloaded mainly on the iPhone, as most users need the app when they’re out and about.
Google Maps for the iPhone
At the same time, Netflix is a popular iPad application, since most people prefer bigger screens to watch their favorite series. If your target audience is likely to need iPads to use your app, be ready to invest more resources in your iOS product.
Netflix app for the iPad
iOS developers’ hourly rates
Software developers’ hourly rates also matter when calculating the budget for your project. Engineers’ location is one of the major factors of the project cost estimations. While coders in the United States may agree to work for $100 per hour, the service of IT experts with the same level of expertise in Ukraine will cost twice less. Developers in France or Finland are another good alternative, but still substantially higher than in Eastern European countries. And let’s not forget about taxes developers have to pay, which differ from country to country, but are significantly higher in the EU countries compared to Ukraine.
Notably, the rates consist of coders’ salary plus agency’s margin. Take a look at the table below to better understand the differences in the hourly rates by country.
iOS developers’ hourly rates by country
Meanwhile, it is not safe to say that higher developers’ rates necessarily result in better software quality. The wages vary due to the gap in the cost of living in different countries rather than the competence level or skill set of a software engineer.
To wisely manage your budget, start by assessing the complexity of your future iOS app. Second, when you’ve already chosen your app category, decide what type of device you need to focus on to predict the final price more accurately. Finally, pay attention to the iOS developers’ hourly rates in different countries. When possible, it’s a smart move to consider outsourcing to destinations where the rates are lower but the final product quality will be the same.
To build a top-rated iOS app without spending a fortune, you need to partner with a software development company that has hundreds of projects under their belt. You can find such a profound experience at JatApp. We’ve completed more than 200 projects and built high-quality mobile apps for different categories. Some of them have millions of downloads on the App Store. If compared to the Western markets, you can benefit from up to 60% cost savings with our talented and competent development teams.
Want to create an app for iOS? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your business idea and clarify app development costs.