As soon as you’ve decided to choose Flutter cross-platform framework to build a mobile application, the question of Flutter app development cost arises. How to organize the whole process finance-wise? And what factors influence the final price of creating a Flutter-powered app?
Of course, it is a stretch to research and calculate everything. Since we at Surf have been through it many times, we’ve brought together our experience that spans over 12 years, rich cross-industrial expertise, and the latest insights to help businesses create the apps they want and not waste their money. Keep reading, and you’ll find out what makes up the Flutter app development cost, what expenses are essential, and how to calculate the approximate cost before commencing the development itself.
The advantages of using Flutter for app development
Flutter is a powerful and versatile cross-platform framework for building performant and complex apps for mobile, desktop, and web. With its high-performance rendering engine, hot-reload feature, extensive widget library, and convenient testing tools, Flutter empowers developers to bring their app’s vision to life with ease. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the framework stand out among other solutions.
Outstanding performance (for cross-platform)
When it comes to performance in demanding apps with heavy graphics, native frameworks tend to beat cross-platform ones. However, Flutter shows that even with a cross-platform solution you can achieve great results in this field. Flutter’s high-performance Skia rendering engine is perfectly capable of providing visually stunning user experience while ensuring smooth animation with stable 60 FPS (frames per second). This is achieved thanks to Flutter framework’s direct communication with the device components, sans the so-called ‘Java bridge’, which is utilized by other cross-platform technologies. Whether it’s a subtle fade-in effect, a complex page transition, or dynamic scrolling, Flutter’s rendering engine handles it all with remarkable efficiency.
Flutter’s hot-reload feature is a game-changer for the development process. Using this feature, Flutter developers can make dynamic changes to their code and see results instantly without having to restart the app. This accelerates the development cycle by eliminating the need for time-consuming restarts, allowing Flutter developers to work faster, as well as be more creative and test various solutions to a task at hand, significantly saving time and boosting productivity.
Extensive widget library
Widgets serve as building blocks for apps built with the Flutter framework. Every element, whether a button or animation, is a widget in Flutter. The framework’s rich widget library and customizable UI elements give developers the tools required for a fast and efficient app development process. Moreover, Flutter fully supports the latest Material Design (Android) and Cupertino (iOS) visual styles and can automatically adapt the appearance of widgets (and, consequently, the entire app) to the device in use. This way, apps built with Flutter can always provide a native feel to both Android and iOS users.
Convenient testing tools
Flutter’s comprehensive suite of automated testing tools and built-in debugging features play a crucial role in ensuring the stability and quality of the app during the development process. Using Flutter, app developers can create and execute automated tests that cover various ‘layers’ of an app, such as units, integrations, and widgets. Flutter’s testing capabilities help identify errors and bugs early on in the development, allowing developers to fix them before they become more complex and harder to resolve. Additionally, Flutter makes it easy to inspect and modify the app’s UI hierarchy, view logs, and track performance metrics, which greatly enhances the development process on the whole.
Achieved with Flutter: real cases
Of course, publicly available and successful apps built with Flutter are the best way to showcase the framework’s capabilities. Read on to discover what Flutter brought to the table for some of the Surf’s development projects.
Recently, Surf has been approached by an American healthcare startup studying endocrine diseases with an app concept aimed to provide diabetes patients with a multifunctional tool for monitoring their condition and improving quality of life. The development team faced several challenges, including strict deadlines and high-performance requirements for processing large amounts of data. The choice of Flutter framework for development was instrumental in successfully developing the app within three months, saving about 40% of the client’s time and budget. The app has been positively received by over 5,000 users since its release.
Six apps with one codebase
Surf partnered with a large pharmacy chain, which wanted to create separate apps for three pharmacy brands. To minimize development time and costs, the solution proposed by Surf was to develop the apps using Flutter. This allowed the use of a single codebase for all three apps, resulting in significant budget savings. The development process took less than four months, and the apps have been successful, with about 70% of the company’s online customers making purchases through the newly released software.
High and consistent performance
Working with a media production company, Surf has been tasked with creating an app that can compete with YouTube in terms of functionality and ease of use. The solution involved creating a Flutter-based streaming app with a smooth playback UI and comprehensive user analytics. The backend was built using modern technologies like Kotlin, Spring Boot, and Kubernetes, and load testing was performed to ensure stability. Soon after release, the app’s success became evident through positive user feedback and the ability to handle the expected high load.
Average Flutter app cost
It is hard to name some average prices: the cost of Flutter app development varies by tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of app you plan to build, its features, supported platforms, and many other factors.
Why do Y combinator startups trust the Surf team and choose Flutter? Read our case studies and find outGo to case studies
Still, here are some numbers to consider: the starting price of a simple e-commerce app on Flutter is about $10,000, a complex messenger or a streaming service — $20,000. If you’re planning to develop a banking app with Flutter, be prepared to pay more since this category of software requires extra layers of security and testing.
Below we will explore what makes up the development cost of a Flutter app and what factors can affect it.
Staff expenses and\or hourly rates
While developing a simple app with Flutter, you’re going to need 200 and more hours of developers’ work. To calculate the amount of money you’re going to pay your staff, just multiply the rates by the number of hours spent on the development. For today, Flutter development costs from $40 to $200 per hour depending on developers’ location. In North America, Europe, and Australia prices are higher than in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
In addition, don’t forget about other staff involved in the Flutter app development process — QAs, product managers, and UX/UI designers. Their work will take you about 40% of the whole project’s spendings.
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 costs
Flutter development framework is available absolutely for free, even for commercial use. But you may need some other tools to build your app, for which you might need to pay.
Below you’ll find a list of some tools you may require.
- An integrated development environment (IDE) — special software for building apps. Developers 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 any 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 development — has a Google Analytics for Firebase tool. It tracks and reports about 500 events, collects data about user behavior within the apps, and more.
Hardware for Flutter developers
If you’ve chosen to hire an in-house Flutter 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 prefer iMacs or MacBooks. For example, a 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro costs about $1,300.
Not only the functionality makes your app loved by 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 expenses
To store data, perform users’ requests, and maintain the overall functionality of your Flutter 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 its performance and reliability. If the performance of the server is weak, a user will have to wait longer for the response. And if the server is not very reliable, some security issues and even user data leaks may occur.
As your business grows and your app gets more users, 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 Flutter app is going to scale, and new features are going to be added to a development pipeline to be created, designed, and tested. So when you have some general understanding of the overall cost, we would suggest adding 15-20% to it.
Release to app stores
Once your Flutter 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 make your app available to the general public , 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 information on the fees for all major distribution platforms.
Factors affecting Flutter app development cost
Here are some more things forming the cost to develop a Flutter app.
Project scale and requirements
The scope of work depends on the project scale. For startups, planning to build an MVP, it is enough to conduct previous research and prepare MVP concepts, having chosen some main features to test them.
For large projects with defined audiences, the scope of work will be different. It will depend on the reasons the business owner is going to rebuild or improve the existing product using Flutter: market changes, company strategy changes, need for new features, design, etc.
So, the more complicated and large-scale your app is, the more resources it will require. When for e-commerce app MVP on Flutter 1000 hours of developers’ work can suffice, for fintech apps the figure can grow up to 1500 hours.
Flutter is a UI framework, offering many tools and libraries that are excellent fit for implementing any design you can imagine. It is more than enough for any purpose, and besides, you get smooth animations without overpayment as a bonus.
The only thing that has an influence on the final cost is creating the design concept.
If you have in-house UX/UX designers to do it, the final design cost depends on your company’s rules and agreements with employees. If you order a ready-made design concept from an outsource, the hourly rates usually vary from $40 to $60.
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 qualification 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 app’s features from scratch or use integrations that allow you to reduce the coding effort.
For example, there are relatively simple core 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 team skilled in Flutter development, it’s possible to build even a complex app within a reasonable time frame.
Choosing a tech stack for the backend is crucial in forming prices. Performance, concurrency, bug detection, and memory management are some of the criteria you should consider while comparing programming languages for writing the backend to each other.
Today, Golang (or Go) is a prospective programming language that suppresses many others in the criteria. Though the prices are high enough, development time is significantly faster.
Large companies have already chosen Go for their fintech projects. Learn more about the reasons and results in our dedicated article.
Application security requirements
The more complex your Flutter project is, the more important it is to pay much attention to security to avoid data leakage and other dangerous situations. How to do it?
It is the developer team who can offer you an individual solution based on their previous experience. For example, if you need a very high level of security, look through the vendor’s portfolio. Banking apps have strict security requirements, and if a vendor is ready to show you successful cases in fintech development, they deserve your trust. Note that your spending will depend on Flutter project’s specifics: the higher the security requirements are, the more expensive it is to achieve them.
Integrations can help you make the Flutter app more convenient for users and speed up the development process. To choose integrations for your Flutter app, your developer team or vendor should do a review of existing services, demonstrate to you their pros and cons, and help you decide which of them are the best match for your project. The final cost of each integration depends on its complexity.
For example, we at Surf have a case study of creating a banking app on Flutter with numerous integrations for less than a year. Read it to learn more information about integrations optimal for fintech.
Learn how to create apps for iOS and Android using a single codebaseRead more
Approximate estimate of Flutter app development cost: examples
In the charts below, we’ve gathered the approximate time you need to add the most common e-commerce and streaming apps 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 product you want to build and get a precise estimation.
How to decrease Flutter development costs
Even with Flutter’s one-codebase-for-multiple-platforms approach, app development can hardly be called an inexpensive endeavor. Having worked with Flutter right from the time it became publicly available, Surf team gladly shares a couple of useful tips that help save development budget without compromising on the app’s functionality and stability.
Choosing the right development approach
Flutter enables developers to create apps in a variety of ways that vary in cost, performance, and functionality: mobile/desktop apps, web apps, and progressive web apps (PWAs).
- Flutter desktop and mobile apps support all five major platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. Flutter apps leverage the framework’s native performance capabilities to build cross-platform apps that can run on the majority of modern devices. Flutter mobile apps have access to device-specific features and components, including camera, GPS, sensors, and native APIs. Such apps can be distributed through app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are apps that combine the best of the both web and mobile apps’ worlds. PWAs are built using web technologies and can be accessed through web browsers like usual websites. However, they offer a more app-like experience by being able to work offline, send push notifications, and get installed on a user’s home screen. Flutter can be used to develop PWAs, allowing developers to hit the ‘sweet spot’ between web and mobile/desktop solutions in terms of expenses, performance, and functionality.
An example of Flutter-powered PWA is Surf’s concept of a universal banking app that is easily accessible to users via three distribution channels: mobile, web, and desktop apps. The banking app UI adapts to a used device, smartly rearranging some of the elements, such as tab bar that appears at the bottom of the screen, as in the usual mobile interfaces. The app’s PWA version based on Flutter, which loads quicker and requires less space than a mobile app, while supporting offline mode in contrast to the web version, can be downloaded from the bank’s official website via the installation APK file (for Android) or installed to the home screen (for iOS).
Another aspect that helps Surf to keep Flutter development efficient is the extensive usage of our home-grown solutions, created by our team members and made freely available to the Flutter community.
For example, Elementary library offers a comprehensive solution for building Flutter apps with clean architecture and testable code. The library divides app code into three layers of responsibility: screen layout, presentation logic, and business logic. This simplifies the development process, improves code readability, and enhances testability. With Elementary, Flutter developers can write cleaner and more maintainable code, reduce development time, and ensure code quality and stability.
Surf Gear encompasses a wide range of solutions for Flutter development that are maintained and regularly updated by the Surf team. Among them are a unified interface for handling various analytical services; OTP Autofill plugin for extracting one-time passwords from text messages; a set of lint rules that helps developers identify and address potential code issues; Swipe Refresh widget that makes it easy to configure and add refreshing actions to app pages, and many others. By analyzing the needs and workflows of Flutter developers, our team has also created a categorized system within Surf Gear, which helps users with finding the right solution for their apps.
Finally, SurfGen tool generates app code automatically for model server queries and responses. SurfGen reduces the time required to complete routine tasks in Flutter development and allows developers to focus on more complex tasks, which speeds up the overall app development process.
Summing things up
Flutter is an open-source cross-platform framework that helps reduce the costs and speed of creating apps by up to 40%. With Flutter, you can release your product faster, involving fewer developers, designers, and QAs in the working process and getting the same high quality as native technologies offer. At Surf, we have proven experience in building Flutter apps both for startups and large-scale projects. Since 2011, we have developed numerous projects we’re really proud of to help our clients’ businesses grow.
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