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How to Estimate Your Flutter App Development Cost and Avoid Extra Expenses?

So, you’ve decided to choose Flutter to build a mobile app — halfway done! But then, here comes the question: how do you estimate your Flutter app development cost and plan everything finance-wise?

We know it is a stretch to research and calculate everything. As mobile app developers and team leads, product and project managers, we at Surf have been through it many times. We’ve used our 10-year experience, expertise, and data to help you build the app you want and not blow through all your money. Keep reading, and you’ll find out what makes up a Flutter app cost, what expenses are essential, and how to calculate the approximate cost of the app depending on its type.

Approximate Flutter app cost

We know you’d hate to hear this, but it’s hard to name some average price: it varies by tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of app you need and what should be calculated in each case.

Still, here are some numbers to consider: a starting price of a simple e-commerce app is about $10,000, a complex messenger or a streaming service — $20,000. If you’re planning to develop a banking app, be prepared to pay more.

Below we’ll find out what makes up Flutter app development cost and what factors can affect it.

Flutter app development expenses structure

Now we’ll go through the main expense items that make up Flutter app development cost.

Flutter app development pricing structure

Staff salaries or rates

In mobile app development the biggest piece of the pie goes to people who build the app.

A Flutter mobile app development team usually includes 5-7 specialists, among them:

  • Flutter developers;
  • QA engineers;
  • UX/UI designers;
  • a product manager.

To build a simple app, you’re going to need 200 and more hours of developers’ work. Or, if you have an in-house or an outsource team, working full time, it will take them about 2,5-3 months. To calculate the amount of money you’re going to pay your staff just multiply the rates by the number of hours or the salaries by the number of months spent on the development.

If you wonder how to gather your team and how much it will cost, check out our blog post on how to hire mobile app developers.

Tools and Flutter license cost

If you want to know how much Flutter costs, we can calm you down: it’s free, even for commercial use. But you may need some other tools for which you might need to pay.

Below you’ll find a list of some tools you may need.

  • An integrated development environment (IDE) — special software for building apps. Flutter developers, whom we’ve asked, usually prefer Android Studio, Visual Studio Code, and XCode. Those tools are free. For some other IDEs, such as IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate, you might need to pay;
  • Integrations. For example, if you need to add an in-app subscription, you may use a ready-to-hand decision such as RevenueCat instead of writing thousands of lines of code. The tool has a free plan and paid plans with extended functionality.
  • Tools for analytics. For example, Firebase — a platform for app development — has a Google Analytics for Firebase tool. It tracks and reports about 500 events, collects data about user behavior within the apps, and much more.

Technical equipment

If you’ve chosen to hire an in-house team, keep in mind that you are to provide them with quality technical equipment, such as productive, up-to-date computers. Ideally, your developers should have Macs: in simple terms, MacOS is pre-tailored for both iOS and Android app development because all these operating systems are of the same family — Unix (while Windows is not). Developers, whom we’ve asked, usually prefer iMacs or MacBooks. For example, a 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2020 costs about $1,300.

Design

Not only the functionality makes your app loveable for the users but also good design. To make the interface intuitive and user flows seamless, you need a UX/UI designer.

Depending on the complexity of the app, you may spend from 20 to 300 + hours on design. The approximate designers’ rates vary from $20/hr to $60/hr.

Support and maintenance costs

To store data, perform users’ requests, and maintain the overall functionality of the app you’re going to need server space. You can choose either a dedicated or cloud server.

Generally, cloud servers are cheaper, and they are the best option to start or host relatively small projects. The precise cost of server usage depends on its technical characteristics (CPU, RAM, disk space) and service options (resources pooling, on-demand self-service, and more) — and may vary from about $5/mo to $150/mo.

When choosing a server provider, take into account their performance and reliability. If the performance of the server is weak, a user will have to wait longer for the app response. And if the server is not very reliable, some security issues and even user data leaks may occur.

As your business grows, it would be better to have a dedicated server: it’s more secure and reliable — as soon as you’re its only user and have it at hand. But having a dedicated server entails some extra expenses, apart from the cost of the server itself. You’ll need a facility to place the servers and a specialist to maintain them — a server administrator. The average annual salary of a server administrator varies from $60,000 to $80,000 a year; their hourly rates are about $40-60.

Remember that your app is going to scale, and new features are going to be developed, designed, and tested. So when you have some general understanding of the overall sum, add 15-20% to it.

Release to app stores

Once your app is ready, you need to launch it on a distributing platform such as App Store or Google Play: it is the proven way to reach your potential users. Normally, to publish your app, you’re going to need a developer account on the platform; it’s paid. What’s more, platforms may take some share of in-app purchases of subscriptions.

In the chart below, we’ve collected the information on the fees for all major app distribution platforms.

App stores’ fees as of April 2021

Depending on the audience of your app, you might also consider OPPO Software Store, Vivo App Store, Xiaomi’s MIUI App Store, and more.

Factors affecting Flutter app development cost

Here are some more things to add up to your Flutter app development cost (or reduce it).

Complexity of features

The number of features and their complexity are the main factors affecting your Flutter app cost. The amount of time needed, the grade of the developer you need to hire, and many other issues stem from the complexity of the particular features. Also, you need to decide whether you are going to code the feature from scratch or use integrations that allow you to reduce the code work.

For example, there are relatively simple features, such as a basic user profile or subscribing to a channel in a streaming service: it can take about 20 hours to develop those. Some complex features, such as integrating a payment system, usually take more than 60 hours and require a high level of mastery and accuracy.

But don’t worry: with a skilled team, it’s possible to build even a complex app within a reasonable timespan. For example, we at Surf have built a YouTube-like streaming service, The Hole, within just four months. For more information, check out our case study.

Team’s location

As said before, the biggest part of your expenses on a Flutter app development is the payment for your team. If you have an in-house team working full time, you also have to pay for their insurance, sick leaves, and more.

You can reduce those costs by hiring an outsource company or freelance specialists. Their rates vary depending on the country they are based in. For example, these are hourly rates of freelance Flutter developers in different regions as of February 2021:

  • America: $75-85;
  • Asia: $45;
  • Eastern Europe: $50-70.

To avoid extra expenses and keep the balance between the cost and the quality, we recommend you to take a closer look at developers and companies from Eastern Europe — Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have become popular destinations for those who strive to hire a real professional for a reasonable price.

Calculating the cost of your Flutter app development: examples

In the charts below, we’ve gathered the approximate development time of the most common e-commerce and streaming apps features. When calculating the cost of your app development, you can use these numbers as a benchmark.

Approximate cost of an e-commerce app features
Approximate cost of a streaming app features

If you don’t feel like calculating or you are afraid to miss something we can do all the math for you. Just tell us about the app you want to build and get a precise estimation.