6 ways to reduce mobile app development costs

11 min read
November 24, 2023

The global app market size reached $288.98 billion in 2023.

And it’s expected to reach $567.19 billion by 2030.

So getting in on the action and developing your own mobile app should be a no-brainer.

But, the cost of mobile app development is a common problem for businesses.

That’s why we’ll discuss 6 ways you can reduce the cost of developing a mobile app.

Let’s go!

How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?

There’s no clear-cut answer on how much it will cost you to develop a mobile app.

Every app is unique and the cost of development can vary wildly.

It depends on a number of different factors like:

  • Type and complexity of your app
  • The platform
  • The design
  • The team building the app
  • Maintenance and updates

But, on average, here’s a breakdown of how much apps usually cost:

  • Simple apps – $40,000-$60,000
  • Medium-complexity apps – $60,000-$70,000
  • Complex apps – $100,000+

And these numbers don’t include other services like product discovery.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your app’s development costs – starting with setting clear goals for your app.

Set clear goals for your app

Setting clear goals is the essential first step for any project, regardless of size.

And your mobile app is no exception.

If you don’t, you’ll absolutely have higher costs due to the lack of focus.

Your risk of failure will be much greater, too – the Project Management Institute estimates that 37% of projects fail because of unclear goals and milestones. 

That’s why having clear goals for your app from the start is so important.

So, how can you set clear goals?

A handy framework to use is the SMART goals framework:

SMART goals framework

source: ProductPlan

The goals you set will guide your app development process from start to finish.

They’ll be the basis for:

  • The project scope
  • Your project roadmap
  • Your development timeline

And that’s why they’re so important.

Key tips

Now, here a few key tips for setting clear goals for your app:

  • Use the SMART goals framework – the SMART goals framework will help you set more focused and realistic goals
  • Stay focused when setting your goals – prioritize developing key features and don’t go overboard
  • Regularly review and adjust your goals – make sure to adapt your goals if you make significant changes during development

We’ll now discuss another way you can reduce the cost of developing your app – cross-platform app development.

Consider cross-platform app development

Cross-platform development is an increasingly popular approach to mobile app development.

And for a good reason, too.

According to NetGuru, building a cross-platform app can be up to 30% cheaper than building 2 separate native apps.


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That’s because you only need a single team of engineers to build a cross-platform app.

And the app uses a single codebase to run on both operating systems.

This significantly reduces development time and that can save you a lot of money.

And cross-platform development has other benefits, too:

Benefits of cross-platform app development

source: AppStudio Canada

But, it has some drawbacks like:

  • Fewer UI design options
  • Catching up with OS updates
  • Slower performance
  • Lack of access to advanced native features

Still, it’s a good option if you want to lower development costs and if your app doesn’t need advanced native features to work properly.

And that’s why it’s a good choice.

Key tips

Here are a few tips you should keep in mind if you’re considering cross-platform app development:

  • Choose the right framework – choose the framework (Flutter, React Native) your team knows how to use
  • Understand the limitations of cross-platform development – a cross-platform app won’t have access to advanced native-only features and will have poorer performance
  • Focus on user experience (UX) – make sure to adjust your app’s UX according to platform-specific guidelines.

Now, we’ll take a look at another way you can reduce your development costs – prioritizing the development of an MVP.

Prioritize developing an MVP

Prioritizing the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) is a great way to reduce your mobile app development costs.

But, why is that the case?

An MVP is a stripped-down version of your app with only the essential features included.

It’s a great way to get your app to market quickly.

MVP development approach

source: Voypost

An MVP is the ultimate idea validation tool you can use to see if genuine demand for your app exists.

And it’s a much more cost-effective approach than fully developing an app before launching it.

For starters, you can develop an MVP much more quickly – and that can save you a lot of time and money.

Plus, an MVP can save you a lot of money if your initial app idea isn’t validated and you have to pivot.

That’s why it’s a good idea to go for it.

Key tips

Now, here’s a few key tips you should keep in mind when developing your MVP:

  • Focus on core features – prioritize building only the essential features your app needs to function
  • Use Agile development methodologies – Agile methodologies like Scrum will speed up your development process and help you better manage your engineering team
  • Create a feedback loop – continuously gather feedback from users and use that as a basis for further development

We’ll now cover another way you can reduce your costs – hiring a dedicated team.

Hire a dedicated team

Hiring talented engineers to develop your mobile app can get very expensive.

According to Glassdoor’s estimates, the average salary of a mobile developer in the U.S. is $143,000 per year.

If you don’t already have a team of engineers, hiring a full team can be very expensive.

And though hiring a bunch of freelancers is the cheapest option, coordination and quality issues mean that it’s also pretty risky.

That’s why hiring a dedicated team to develop your mobile app is the best option.

Dedicated team

But, what is a dedicated team anyway?

A dedicated team is a team of engineers that handles your app’s development from start to finish – and it functions just like an in-house team.

The only difference is that it’s formed by a third-party agency or service provider based on your exact requirements.

You get a skilled engineering team that’s more reliable than freelancers and cheaper than an in-house team – it’s the best of both worlds.

And that’s why it’s the right choice.

Key tips

Here’s a few key tips you should use when hiring a dedicated team:

  • Define clear requirements – make sure you first have a clear idea of what you want your app to do
  • Set clear development timelines – the development timelines you set for your dedicated team should be clear, realistic and achievable
  • Ask about post-launch support – check if the company you’re partnering with offers maintenance and updates after your app’s launch

Let’s move on to another way you can cut costs when developing your app – using open-source tools and templates.

Use open-source tools and templates

Using open-source tools and pre-made templates is a great way to cut costs when developing a mobile app.

The stats back that up, too.

The Linux Foundation estimates that using open-source software can cut development costs by up to 55% when compared to commercial solutions.

And some of the most popular mobile app development tools and frameworks are open-source, like: 

  • Flutter
  • React Native
  • Apache Cordova
  • Android Studio

Also, with open-source tools, you’ll avoid the danger of vendor lock-in i.e. not being able to switch to a different vendor because of high costs.

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And it’s not just development where you can cut costs without sacrificing quality.

There are plenty of free mobile UI design templates and kits available on sites like Figma’s Community page.

You can use them as the basis for your app’s design, which can save you a lot of time.

And that’s what makes all the difference when it comes to reducing app development costs.

Key tips

Here are several key tips you should remember when using open-source tools:

  • Understand the licensing terms – each tool has its specific licensing terms you need to follow, make sure you comply with them to avoid legal issues
  • Stay updated on security – regularly check for security updates and fixes for every open-source tool you use
  • Regularly monitor performance – you should continuously monitor the performance of the tools you use and change them if necessary

Let’s now discuss another way you can save money when developing your mobile app – regular testing.

Regularly test your app

Regularly testing your mobile app during development is a great way to reduce costs in the long run.

And you should do it from the start.

Catching bugs early will help prevent long and costly fixes later on in your app’s development.

If you test regularly and have rigorous quality assurance (QA) protocols, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of major issues happening deep into the development cycle.

And these directly lowered costs are just one benefit of regular testing:

Benefits of software testing

Even improved quality and security can reduce costs in their own right. 

With a safe app, you’re less at risk of costly security breaches and high-quality apps have lower maintenance costs.

Also, if you have an efficient testing process, you’ll speed up your app’s development cycle.

Getting your app to market faster than your competitors can be the difference between success and failure, especially in competitive niches.

And that’s why investing in QA and regular testing is a good idea.

Key tips

Here’s a few tips you should keep in mind when testing your mobile app:

  • Start testing early – if you catch and fix bugs early, they’ll be much easier and cheaper to solve
  • Automate where possible – automated testing will save you time and ensure consistency in testing
  • Test across different devices – make sure your app works seamlessly on every device, screen size and operating system

Now, we’ll cover some frequently asked questions we’ve seen pop up. 

6 ways to reduce mobile app development cost: FAQs

How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?

On average, here’s how much developing a mobile app costs:

  • A simple app – $40,000-60,000$
  • A medium-complexity app – $60,000-70,000$
  • A complex app – $100,000+

How can I reduce the cost of mobile app development?

Here’s how to reduce your mobile app development costs:

  • Set clear goals for your app
  • Develop a cross-platform app
  • Prioritize the development of an MVP
  • Hire a dedicated team
  • Use open-source tools and templates
  • Regularly test your app

How does prioritizing the development of an MVP reduce costs?

By building an MVP first, you get your app to market faster and validate your app idea. This significantly shortens development time.

Can hiring a dedicated team reduce app development costs?

Yes, it’s a cheaper option than hiring an in-house team and more reliable than hiring freelancers. You just need to choose the right company to help you develop your mobile app.

Are open-source tools reliable?

Yes, many open-source tools are widely used and have strong communities behind them. They’re also continuously updated and you can rely on them when developing your mobile app.

Need a mobile app?

Developing a mobile app can be a game-changer for your business.

But, you need to find the right company to partner with if you want that to happen.

And that’s where we come in.

If you need help building your mobile app, feel free to reach out and get in touch with us – we’ll help you bring your app idea to life.

Written by

Ivan Trogrlic

Android Team Lead

An Applied Sciences graduate and a true connoisseur of tech, Ivan is a software developer with a genuine love for exploring new technologies. QAs love his code, and his fellow developers always value his input. For Ivan, there is no issue too small to talk over, and no problem that can’t be solved together. When he is not coding, Ivan is usually hiking or playing football. His ideal workspace? Probably a cottage in the mountains, with a serious gaming setup and fast internet connection.

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