As a technology company, we often get asked how much does a mobile app cost to make? What would be a ballpark figure? We have pretty much a standard answer; It will depend on your requirement.

As in every other industry segment, the questions regarding cost is always an important one.

The next ‘how much will it cost’ question is ‘why does it cost $$ these many dollars?’ It’s a straight forward app, they say. What clients or wannabe startups forget is the cost of brainstorming, testing out the alpha release and sometimes even scaling back.

To help clients understand the costs for developing a mobile app, and more importantly to develop a successful one, we have come up with an explanation. A case study. A make-believe story of how much a popular app such as Splitwise cost.

What is the purpose of this exercise?

  • To help clients understand the costs and visualize the stages of development

Why did we choose Splitwise for our example?

  • It’s widely used (by individuals wanting to launch the next startup)
  • It has one or more competitors
  • It continuously develops features

So for those of you who do not know Splitwise, you may know other variants like Billr, Spot me, bills up or any other cost splitting apps. If you don’t know any of these, Splitwise is an application that makes it easy to split bills with friends and family. It organizes all the shared expenses and I-Owe-You’s (IOUs) in one place so that everyone can see who they owe and how much.

Well, that the one line definition. However, when you start building it out, you would require more than one feature. For example, when an end-user John Doe comes to your new app, he will need to register, create a group by adding friends, add and split bills, view history and settle payments. Let’s look at these features in details.

At the core of this product is the split calculator. For every bill our user John enters, he gets the opportunity to enter instructions as to how many people are part of the bill and or what ratio to split? This creates accurate IOU’s in place and helps track transactions. Moreover, it eases the record-keeping between members of the group by canceling redundant transactions.

A owes B $20, but B owes C $30, and C owes A $10. Therefore, A owes $20 but is owed $10, B owes $30 but is owed $20 and C owes $10 but is owed $30. However, effectively A only needs to pay $10 to B, B needs to pay $20 to C while C has no other transactions.

To ensure these functionalities work perfectly between members, we need to get the registration, login, forget password, add friends (it could be colleagues, acquaints or family) and the interface to enter bills. So how many working hours will it take? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.

calculation for MVP

So approximately 400 working hours, but this is just for an MVP which means it would easily be a nearly three-month project. And yet, you ask why the cost?

Moving on.

This calculation goes way up when adding full features currently in the app or if you would like to scale your mobile app. Factor in the web version as well as an option for Android users. Some of the other features that you would want to look into are recurring payments, supporting other currencies, reminders and social media integration.

Recurring payments

As the name suggest, this feature would allow users to set up a payment to occur repeatedly at a fixed interval. For example monthly rent payments between roommates.

Other currencies

Over time, Splitwise added more currencies to its algorithm like the Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Euro, Pound and many more. This means users have the benefit to split bills in any currency.


These are like regular calendar events that can be triggered at specific times, say when a user has not paid another. It is an added functionality between user-to-user interaction.

Social media integration

This essentially boils to simplified login options for users. However, it can be used to improve reach and market penetration.

Another added feature is the fairness calculator. Though fairness can have a subjective interpretation, meaning what one considers fair may not seem fair to the other. Splitwise built their rent calculator feature with the idea of using data points across real-estate surveys when it created the algorithm. Similarly, Splitwise team went on to create travel calculator, tax calculator, furniture calculator, guest calculator and noise calculator.

So this is how your calculation would now look like with all the added features:

how to calculate mobile app cost

According to this calculation, it should be nearly 12 months to launch a full-fledged web and mobile app. In case you are wondering about the developing extras, they are not extravagant markup. With the 10+ years experience, we often advise our project managers to be transparent with their project management time markup which eventually results in $ amount.

Generally speaking, Quality Assurance is not a task, it’s a process. A bug found by a QA analyst means it might involve a designer or a developer or both. Most bugs or errors found during testing are foot-in-the-mouths avoided with clients. Therefore, it is important to plan it ahead.

DevOp may seem like tech mumbo-jumbo but usually, cost about 5% of your project. Instead of bringing it up just before deployment, we prefer to state it upfront.

If these are your estimated prices, your costs could still vary with your developer hourly cost based on where he/she is located. On an average:

  • North America — $60–250 per hour
  • United Kingdom — $60–150 per hour
  • Western Europe — $40–120 per hour
  • Eastern Europe — $20–100 per hour
  • India — $15–80 per hour

To conclude:

The cost for any application has many factors to consider, highlighting one and neglecting others can misconstrue your development plans. We can help you create realistic development plans for your next idea, just like the clone we charted here.

On the other hand, in case you get entangled into a conversation over cost, maybe you’ll refer your acquaintance to this article.

Contact Our mobile developers now to know more!