June 7, 2021
Flutter’s popularity is growing day by day, and numerous companies are eager to adopt this technology. In this article, we’re going to address the question of Flutter app development cost, and find out what factors it depends on. Apart from that, we’ll answer the question of why Flutter is a worthy competitor to other hybrid frameworks, and look at the latest statistics about this technology.
Flutter appeared in the developers’ community not so long ago, but it is already an uprising trend in the world of cross-platform mobile development. High performance was considered the main advantage of the native apps over the hybrid ones. However, the new framework proves the opposite. Flutter application development, for example, results in a superior native-like experience. A non-developer would hardly distinguish a Flutter app from the one built with Swift or Kotlin. Due to the excellent performance and noticeable time and cost-savings, this technology has proven itself as a worthy competitor in the IT community.
In this article, we’re going to perform the Flutter development cost estimation. To be more specific, we’ll illustrate the calculations by the case of ServiceUP. EXISTEK created this application for the Ukrainian service industry. It simplifies the beauty salons’ workflows by streamlining the booking process and the communication with the customers. We implemented Flutter as the core front-end technology for this app and chose Node.js and MySQL for the backend. Later on, we’ll describe how the tech stack affected the final Flutter app cost.
A year ago, developers primarily would choose Flutter for MVPs, but now it is a reasonable choice not only for startups. Bigger projects can be built with Flutter, and ServiceUP is excellent proof of that. It is designed to be used by numerous companies at the same time. Thus, it deals with relatively complex workflows and considerable amounts of stored data, and Flutter handles it perfectly.
Keeping up to date is essential, and Flutter is an excellent step towards innovations. Let’s move on and find out the Flutter app development cost.
List of the Content
- Flutter application development state in 2021
- Flutter advantages
- Flutter app development cost estimation
- Price forming factors
- Final Flutter app development cost
- In conclusion
FLUTTER APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT STATE IN 2021
Flutter cross-platform development is taking over native, and the Statista research illustrates it perfectly. It shows the percentage of the mobile OS’s distribution for software development. 45% of apps are hybrid and built for Android and iOS simultaneously, 41% of solutions go for only Android development, 11% exclusively for iOS, and only 2% for other operating systems.
Such market share explains the demand for high-quality hybrid mobile frameworks. Flutter is one of them. It entered the software market less than three years ago, but according to the StackOverflow survey, it is already on the list of the ten most popular frameworks. What’s more interesting is Flutter’s growth. Statista presents the report about the cross-platform frameworks used by the programmers in 2019 and 2020. Both times, Flutter took second place after ReactNative. However, in 2019, it was used by 30% of devs, and in 2020, the percentage increased to 39%, while ReactNative holds a stable position with the rate of 42%. No wonder if the number of Flutter users will grow, and at the end of 2021, we’ll see it holding the top position on the list of hybrid mobile frameworks.
Due to the novelty of Flutter, developers’ rates are lower than in the case of other technologies. It allows companies to save a significant amount of money on the development without compromising the quality of the created software. This article is devoted to the Flutter app development cost estimation and finding out what it depends on.
The Clutch research shows that app development costs vary from $25 000 to $700 000. Thus, it is almost impossible to predict the Flutter app development cost accurately without the properly conducted discovery. Later in the article, we’ll describe what factors affect the average cost of Flutter app development and how to receive the most accurate estimate possible.
WHY CHOOSE FLUTTER FOR HYBRID APP DEVELOPMENT
Flutter is a great way to save some project resources and still have superior app quality. To summarize, we’ll name the advantages and disadvantages of Flutter application development. First of all, hybrid apps have about 80% of shared code. It allows developers to rewrite only the 20% left.
To illustrate, let’s dive into Flutter’s architecture. The framework is a layered system that includes:
Each layer has a set of libraries that depend on it.
The engine is the core part. It compiles the code, rasterizes graphics, renders subsystems, responsible for app accessibility, plugins, and data input/output.
The framework is responsible mainly for the visual representation of an application, including gestures, animations, layouts, rendering, etc. These two layers constitute 80% of the code.
Embedder, in turn, is what makes these 80% function differently depending on the operating system. Programmers use native languages to write this part of the code. It manages to access the native features like input, event loop, and others.
With only 20% of the code rewritten, we received two applications that look exactly like native. You can see it yourself in the screenshots below:
Shared code is the basis of all upsides of hybrid solutions. Due to the fact that devs spend twice less time than on building two separate applications, Flutter app development cost and time are also decreased by almost 50 percent.
A framework chosen for the development defines the overall app’s performance and how native it will look and feel. When cross-platform solutions were not as popular as now, it was pretty easy to distinguish them from the native ones. However, innovative frameworks allow building software that looks exactly like it’s built with native technologies.
To shift away from hybrid apps’ upsides in general and move to Flutter’s, let’s start with the language it’s built with – Dart. It is an object-oriented language, which makes the transition from any object-oriented technology to Flutter very smooth.
One more advantage is the quality of user experience that can be achieved with Flutter. The ease of UI creation depends on two significant factors. The first is the Skia engine responsible for the graphics. It is a 2D library built with C++. It contains a large number of native APIs and allows creating animations with 60 fps and more if the device supports it. The second factor resulting in a great user experience is that every element in Flutter is organized as a widget, leading to all visual components being fully customizable. Some elements taken from the Skia library can have initial styles, but due to the fact that Flutter has an open-source code, developers can change even the predefined styles.
In some other frameworks, pictures’ hanging and cutting may appear when a user scrolls the page. It may be very annoying, and what’s more important, it will eventually significantly reduce the number of users.
Want to know how Flutter is different from other frameworks?
In the article, we compared Flutter and React Native as the most successful hybrid frameworks. You can also find there some information about such competitors as Ionic, Xamarin, and Cordova.
Hot reload is one more feature that makes Flutter very easy to use. It allows seeing the last implemented code adjustments on the virtual machine almost instantly. It results in decreased development time. In addition, Flutter SDK includes numerous inbuilt error-handling instruments. It makes debugging faster and more effective.
However, there are still some situations when native development is a more reasonable choice, even when there’s the need to have an app on different operating systems. Flutter works perfectly on Android and iOS, but there often appear some problems with the less popular OSs like Android Wear, WatchOS, Android TV, and Apple TV. Problematic compatibility with some operating systems is Flutter’s weakness. Building apps for Watch OS and Apple TV with this framework is not possible at all yet, but developers can build apps for Wear OS or Android TV with Flutter.
FLUTTER APP DEVELOPMENT COST ESTIMATION
Usually, application development consists of four major stages: discovery, UI/UX design, development and testing, and support.
We’ll describe them using SeriveUP as the example and estimate the duration of each and the expenses they entail. By the way, speaking of estimates, we should mention that sometimes it happens that estimates formed by software development companies turn out to be incorrect. Unfortunately, it may even be intentional. That’s why it is always necessary to check your software development cost estimations.
What factors affect the Flutter app development cost?
The most significant one is salaries. It derives from the number of team members, engagement model, location of the developers, and most importantly, from the project duration.
So, let’s see what costs each development stage entails, and we’ll start with a requirement analysis.
Requirement Gathering And Analysis: Cost
The discovery stage is the starting point of any project. At this point, a client and a service provider define the project objectives and main goals and challenges. For ServiceUP, they were to make the booking process in beauty service fast and convenient and enhance the quality of the client management. Based on the collected information, specialists form the deliverables – Software Requirements Specification document and interface wireframes.
An SRS document contains user stories, acceptance criteria, rules, permission sets, database design, wireframes, and system architecture.
Wireframes are blueprints of apps’ screens without visual design. Their main goal is to show the user flow, which helps analyze the logic and estimate how successful the user experience will be. In some cases, designers create a prototype. It is a more detailed visual representation of an app that allows users to test it – press buttons or type some text and see how an app reacts to it. A prototype is optional, but it was developed for ServiceUP. Altogether, the designers have spent about 120 hours completing their work. With an average designers’ hourly rate of $40, the amount of money spent on salaries constitutes about $4800.
At this stage, people who work the most are a business analyst, a project manager, UI/UX designers on the provider’s side, and a product owner and a project manager on the client’s side.
The central part of work is conducted during the regular meetings with the customer. For ServiceUP, it took the business analyst about 120 hours of calls and meetings with the customer’s team to develop the final version of the documentation. BA’s average hourly rate is $40, so as a result, we get $4800.
We’ll estimate the project manager’s work and how it affects the Flutter app development cost only after the development and testing stage because the PM actively participates in the whole process. For now, we have $10000 spent on the discovery stage with an actual duration of 5 weeks.
Flutter Development Cost: UI/UX Design
Firstly, designers extend the wireframes created during the discovery phase with additional details or add more screens. On their basis, they move on to the mockups. Wireframes allow analyzing the user flow and noticing the possible improvements if there are any. Mockups’ main goal is to represent the entirely created visual design. They don’t allow interacting with an app, but for this, designers may create a prototype. At this stage, the team presents the app logo, fully designed screens with a balanced color scheme, and typography to the client.
Curious to know how we designed an app?
Want to see what typography and color schemes we implemented for ServiceUP?
In our case, the software used for UI/UX design is Adobe Illustrator and Figma. Flutter plays an essential role in the design process. It uses the Skia graphics library that contains a considerable amount of packages with icons, fonts, and transitions. Advanced animations are one more significant advantage of Flutter. Their quality is critical because how fast and smooth they are defines a great deal of the user experience. Such versatility of in-built widgets eliminates the necessity to code every element from scratch. It makes the development process faster and, therefore, reduces the Flutter app development cost.
Altogether, the designers have spent 150 hours. By multiplying it by $40/hour, we’ll get $6 000 for the UI/UX design stage.
The Cost Of Flutter App Development And Testing
It’s important to pay enough attention to the technology choice. The tech stack defines a significant part of the overall success. To make a proper decision, it’s crucial to understand business needs and app functionality clearly. Based on the information gathered during the pre-development stage, we decided on Node.js and MySQL for the backend, Flutter for the frontend, Adobe Illustrator, and Figma for the design.
We prefer dividing the process into sprints and milestones, according to Scrum. It allows us as a service provider to constantly communicate with the client and always provide all demos and updates on time.
Both developers and QA engineers use the SRS document. Developers keep track of the planned features in Jira and implement all of them. QA specialists, in turn, test the workflows and make sure that the app behaves as intended.
At the end of each milestone, a project manager collects the client’s feedback to make improvements. We use Agile and Scrum as the primary methodologies, and it allows us to implement changes at any point of the development cycle. If you’re interested in knowing about the ServiceUP development process in more detail, you can see the development roadmap in the respective section of the case study. You can also find out how we organize the Flutter app development process in general.
People who actively participated in this stage are:
- A QA engineer
- A project manager
- A backend developer
- Two frontend developers
Coders spent 2000 hours implementing all necessary functionality. A QA specialist was testing the application for 640 hours. The project manager took part in all stages of the project, and the duration of his involvement amounted to 160 hours.
An average developers’ rate is about $45/hour. It results in $85 000. The project manager’s salary accounts for $40/hour. Multiplied by the work hours, we have $6400. QA engineer’s rate per hour is $30. So, his involvement during all stages constitutes about $19 000. Altogether, we have approximately $110 000 for the development and testing stage.
AVERAGE FLUTTER APP DEVELOPMENT COST
An average cost of a Flutter application depends on the project size (a number of features, workflow complexity, etc.). We can distinguish four software types by this criterion:
- An MVP
- A simple application
- An app of medium complexity
- A complex app
The development team composition may change depending on the project size in terms of the number of developers. Apart from this, it stays the same:
- A business analyst
- A project manager
- A QA engineer
Gathering a team of qualified specialists is the key to success. However, sometimes it is challenging to find programmers that will meet your requirements.
Want to know how to gather a great team of Flutter devs?
In the article, we’ve described the necessary skills of Flutter devs, types of engagement models, and best locations to outsource.
Let’s see what features the apps of different complexity have and how much does it cost to develop them with Flutter.
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It is a development technique that helps to save project resources. It is a product that has a set of only essential features. It aims at addressing the needs of early users to collect the initial feedback, which helps to understand the direction of further development.
Entrepreneurs often develop MVPs when they need to enter the market as fast as possible and see if there is any interest in the product. Later, they make adjustments to the application and add more features in the following iterations. Collected feedback prevents developers from building a product that might not succeed at all or implementing features that won’t be actively used. It’s much better to understand as soon as possible whether the project is worth any significant budget investments.
Successful MVPs often seem like they have everything automated. Still, the processes may be manual behind the scenes, which is not a problem because the primary goal of MVPs is seeing how users interact with an app to make further adjustments.
Flutter is a perfect candidate for creating MVPs because it allows saving project resources on developing two separate versions with different UI elements. Flutter provides a wide range of in-built widgets, so developers spend twice less time as a single Flutter app can be tested on both operating systems.
Features that MVPs usually contain are simple. They may be:
- User registration
There are many successful projects that started with an MVP. They are Facebook, Airbnb, Amazon, Dropbox, and others. Airbnb, for example, was initially a simply designed one-page website that contained registration forms, a user listing, and pictures of accommodations. Amazon, as well, was a simple website, the goal of which was to sell books online. It was purely designed and contained only registration, pictures, text, and links to other pages.
The duration of the MVP development varies from two to six weeks, depending on the number of implemented features. The Flutter app development cost for an MVP constitutes approximately $30 000.
A simple app differs from an MVP in that it is the final product, whereas an MVP is basically a demo version of the app. Thus, a simple application should have a longer list of essential features. They might be:
- User registration
- User management
A simple app must have a user-friendly interface with a minimal visual design, which makes it easy to navigate through the features.
The development of such an application usually takes from one to three months and costs about $50 000.
A medium application has a much wider range of functionality. In contrast to simple apps, it may use chats or third-party integrations. The usual set of features implies:
- User registration
ServiceUP relates to this category. Apart from the basic features, it allows users to select masters, services, uses a calendar to make appointments, etc.
The development process usually takes from three to six months. The team may also be extended with some more developers and designers, so their parts of work can be finished in time. The Flutter app development cost of a medium-complexity software constitutes from $80 000 to $150 000.
Complex applications include advanced functionality and workflows, process user-generated data, may also imply payment gateways and contain different apps for different groups of users. For instance, telemedicine software is a complex app. It consists of two apps: one for patients and one for doctors. Each of them includes a set of advanced features like:
- User management
- Audio and video calls
- Other media features
- Third-party integrations
The duration of such project development typically takes six months and more. The number of team members may increase from 5 members, as in the case of an MVP, to 10 and even more. Such apps are usually available on both OSs and in a web version, which Flutter handles perfectly. The development cost constitutes about $200 000 and, in some cases, more.
OTHER FACTORS THAT FORM THE FLUTTER APP DEVELOPMENT COST
Developer’s Engagement Model
There are two main engagement models: freelancers and dedicated developers. Opting for freelancers helps to save some project resources, but it has some downsides. When a company hires a freelancer, they should be ready for specific risks. Such specialists are not so dedicated to the team, and it can affect their approach to the working process and the communication with the colleagues.
The second option is dedicated teams. We prefer this approach for a number of reasons. Team members don’t have to spend time on establishing relationships. These people have most likely worked together on numerous projects and are a solid and tight-knit team from the very beginning. Also, they are interested in making the maximum contribution to the company’s success, so they’ll be actively involved in the whole process. Read more if you’re curious about other advantages of hiring a dedicated team.
The Cost Of App Release
When the app is built, at some point, the provider has to publish it somewhere. The most popular app distribution platforms are Google Play and App Store. They charge users a particular fee for the app launch. It may affect the cost of Flutter app maintenance.
Both platforms provide users with two options: a usual release (when everyone can find and download the app) and a release for internal use (when only the members of a particular organization have access to the application).
Let’s see how it affects the Flutter software development cost. For the first option, Google Play charges a one-time $25 commission, and App Store asks users for $99 annually. If you’re releasing an app for internal use, App Store cost increase to $299 annually, and Google Play, on the other hand, provides this opportunity for free.
In addition, both app stores charge a 30% fee for any in-app purchases. For those who have used it for more than a year, the percentage decreases to 15% of the commission. The article about the types of subscriptions and fees on the App Store gives more explicit information. Check it out if you’re curious to know more.
It may seem that such relatively low prices won’t make any difference on the overall cost to make a Flutter app, but if you’ve released the software for internal use on the App Store, in 3 years, you’ll pay almost $1000 and lose 60% of the income from the application. Thus, you have to consider these spendings when you’re planning the Flutter app development cost.
If the app processes some users’ personal information, it’s especially important to pay enough attention to the server that stores it. Data insecurity is not the only downside of weak servers. Using them leads to very high response time and, consequently, low performance.
Amazon EC2 has proved to be a reliable candidate. Server space also costs money and should be added to the Flutter app cost. AWS allows calculating the price for different workloads. On average, it takes about $1500 per year, but the price may vary depending on various characteristics. You may evaluate the more accurate price via the AWS price calculator in order to add it up to the cost of Flutter app maintenance.
FINAL FLUTTER APP DEVELOPMENT COST
Now, when we’ve considered all possible factors that affect the Flutter software development cost, we can sum them up and see what will be the final Flutter app cost:
- Discovery stage – $10 000
- UI/UX design – $6 000
- Development and testing – $110 000
- 20% for maintenance and support yearly – $20 000
- Other expenses (mainly for server hosting, and also for release to app distribution platforms, risk coverage) – $10 000
Having summarized the prices of all factors, we can finally answer the question of “How much does it cost to develop a Flutter app.” Exactly for the ServiceUP, we have $156 000.
However, it’s worth mentioning that ServiceUP is a middle-sized project with complex features and workflows, which results in an increased cost.
Apart from the described application, we can distinguish some other categories that we described earlier:
- An MVP development takes only about $30 000
- A simple app development will be several times lower than ServiceUP – from $50 000 to $80 000
- A complex application with advanced features would take $200 000 and more.
There’s no accurate answer to “How much does it cost to create a Flutter app” because the price varies on numerous factors. However, there is still some tendency, which shows that a simple application can cost from $50k to $80k, an app of medium complexity will cost about $120k – $200k, and a complex app’s price will start at $200k.
Want to calculate the accurate Futter app development cost?
Our specialists are ready to conduct the proper discovery for your project and estimate all aspects in order to make the conclusion about the final cost of your software.