How to Outsource Mobile App Development – The Definitive Guide 2022


23 Jan, 2020


9 min read

Mobile App Development

With over 2 million apps on the Play Store and App Store, the mobile app development industry has progressed into a multi-million dollar business. By 2020, it is estimated that the number of mobile users will grow to around 6 billion, accounting for over 194 billion app downloads. It means, for businesses, investing in mobile app development is not just a trend but a requirement of the times.

There are various ways to go about developing an app: hiring an in-house team of developers, and outsourcing the app idea to a suitable development company.

Outsourcing app ideas allows you to shorten the timeframe for marketing, decrease overall costs, and ensure a better quality of the product. Around 52.5% of IT companies outsource their development projects.

Here, we’ll discuss how to outsource mobile app development, the benefits of outsourcing, and the total cost of outsourcing that you should expect:

What Is Outsourcing Mobile App Development

If an in-house team is not an option for your app development needs, then turning to a third-party development agency is your next best choice. When you hire an outside agency to develop your app, you outsource mobile app development.

Outsourcing offers a much more extensive range of skills and experience than an in-house team as an app development firm concentrates on developing apps for a variety of businesses. It means they have the expertise and the tools to solve any issues swiftly and aptly. 

Additionally, with application development outsourcing, you have multiple choices, unlike with an in-house team:

Options for Outsourcing App Development

With an in-house team, you only get a set of individuals with expertise in specific areas of app development processes. On the other hand, with outsourcing app development, you get diversity in who builds the app:

An offshore or onshore development company

Freelancer developers

Or an off-the-shelf app

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each option:


Development Companies

  • You have a complete team at hand immediately.
  • From the cost to the scope of the work, everything is recorded on paper to eliminate any discrepancies later.
  • A diverse range of experiences within the team.
  • The development process is organized with proper maintenance and post-launch services.

Freelance Developers

  • More cost-effective compared to top-notch development companies
  • An exceptional talent pool of developers exists among the freelancers.

Off-the-shelf Solutions

  • Cheaper than designing custom apps.
  • Less time to launch.
  • Feature-rich apps.


Development Companies

  • More expensive option than hiring freelancers and off-the-shelf apps.
  • Offer less flexibility in their mode of work than freelancers.

Freelance Developers

  • Limited specializations in platforms and the latest technologies.
  • No guarantee of the quality of work and no client protection measures.
  • Communication and time-management is an issue, mainly if time zones are different.

Off-the-shelf Solutions

  • A readymade app may not fit your needs.
  • Customization and transition to another platform are complicated.
  • Some features may be unnecessary for your business.
  • Standard UI/UX design.
  • Updates in response to market change are limited.

The company to outsource app development depends on the complexity of your app, the type of app you need, and your budget. If your app idea is simple with minimal features, then an off-the-shelf solution would be sufficient for your need, especially if you are short on time with a limited budget.

Similarly, freelance developers can be a good option if the app is simple in design and falls into the developers’ area of expertise.

Contrarily, opting to outsource app development to a full-cycle development company gives you access to a team of specialists. Android and iOS developers, UI/UX designers, QA testing team, as well as project managers, and business analysts are part of the deal. The individual experts would work together as a team to build the app from scratch, making offshore mobile application development the best choice for custom app design.

Benefits of Outsourcing

Outsourcing app development offers more flexibility in terms of cost and features, app design, and allows leveraging advanced technologies. It has many advantages over in-house development, some of them are:

Faster Turnaround

Outsourcing app development offers a quicker turnaround than an in-house team or freelance developers. With an offshore development company, project managers and business analysts are also part of the package. It means that the company will regulate the development processes to ensure the timely delivery of the app and client satisfaction.

Additionally, with an in-house team, the developers may have to coordinate their tasks with other projects on their plate. So, app development will take a longer time than it will if you outsource the project.

More Extensive Talent Pool for Developers

An in-house team comprises of limited individuals, minimizing the expertise to a specific level. With application development outsourcing, on the other hand, you have access to diverse developers’ talent pool. Outsourcing to companies or freelancers in Europe, Asia, or Africa, allows you to leverage the talent in these regions.

Additionally, you can outsource iPhone app development or Android development to a single development firm. With access to a broader talent pool, offshore companies have developers for native apps or hybrids for iOS, Android, and Windows development.

Access to Different Technologies Under One Roof

Another benefit of outsourcing is that you can find all the latest technologies for app development under one roof.

For full-cycle development companies, app and web development are their bread and butter. Thus, they have experts with ample knowledge of the best techniques for software development and the tools to put their skills to use. Additionally, companies also have access to the latest technologies.


While outsourcing gives you less control over the development processes, it is much more cost-effective than an in-house team. Outsourcing to agencies based in the US will cost less, and offshore mobile application development to companies in Europe, India, and Africa is even more affordable.

Additionally, with in-house hiring, you need to invest in a team of developers and the technology to develop an app. The overall cost of hiring new employees, making arrangements for their workspace and the equipment for development is more than the cost of hiring an offshore agency.

Development agencies charge an hourly rate that includes the cost of developers, equipment, maintenance, and post-launch services.

How to Outsource App Development?


With the benefits of outsourcing done, let’s see how to outsource app development to offshore or onshore agencies. As with hiring any development company, you need to be sure of what you want for your business before you reach out to software companies. Here are the steps you need to take for outsourcing your app idea:

Solid Outline

A top-notch development company will offer its insight and analysis of your business needs, but it’s better to have an initial idea of your aim with the product and the future of the company. Knowing what you want will help in finding a development agency that fits your needs.

Furthermore, if you outsource app development to freelancers instead of a company, your research is even more invaluable. Miscommunication will lead to the creation of an app completely different from your expectations.

So, when outlining your app idea, keep the following questions in mind:

How will the app help in the progress of the company?

What is the purpose of the app? What problem does it resolve for the target users?

Do you want a native app for iOS and Android or a hybrid app?

What features do you want in the app?

Highlighting your requirements with the app design and function will help narrow down the list of offshore app development companies or freelancers that you can hire. It will also ensure the product delivered is as you expected.

Estimate Your Budget

Estimating the budget for mobile app development should be included in your initial business analysis. The amount you allocate for the app will determine the options available to you, including in-house development, offshore companies, or off-the-shelf solutions.

Readymade mobile apps are the cheapest option offering minimal features and standard UI/UX.  The cost of custom apps, on the other hand, depends on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the app, platform, features, and more. For example, a simple app can cost up to $50,000+ whereas complex apps can rate as high as $300,000+.

Mobile app development is a little costly, but there are end-to-end software development companies or freelancers that build apps from the ground up on a budget-friendly price.

Research Developers

Before you can outsource app development, you need to research the app developers that match your requirements. Check their experience with the iOS or Android platforms, their skills with the technologies you want in your app, and more. The geography and mode of communication are other factors you need to consider when choosing an outsourcing app development firm.

The outsourcing agencies are divided into three categories based on their location relative to your company: onshore, nearshore, and offshore. Onshore developers are those in the same country as yours, whereas nearshore companies are in the bordering nations. Offshore, contrarily, are the developers based furthest away.

When you want to outsource web application development, determine the location of the development company early in your research. With onshore app developers, you can expect smooth communication. But if you are based in the US, onshore companies will be more expensive than offshore app developers.

Therefore, when considering outsourcing app development, research the developers as well. Besides their location, consider the following factors:

Portfolio: Check their collection to analyze their experience in app development. Do they have attractive, user-oriented applications in their portfolio?

Tech Stack: Ensure the team has the expertise to leverage the technologies required by your app idea.

Industry: Does the agency have experience working with a client in the same industry as you?

Client References: What do their past clients say about their quality of service?

Partners: Is the company in a partnership with leading tech companies like Google?

Analyzing these factors will help in shortlisting potential agencies that fit your requirements, making it easier to contact them for their services.

Service Model

Not only do you have multiple options with outsourcing app development, but you can also choose the service model that fits your needs. There are three types of service models in app development:


Project-based service models imply that the team has predetermined requirements they need to reach within a defined timeframe. With everything outlined by the client, it makes them responsible for the product quality instead of the technologies used in development.

A project-based model includes limited team members, a defined timeline, and a fixed budget. Additionally, the project outcome also depends on the backlog the outsourcing company has.

Dedicated Teams

Through the ‘dedicated team’ service model, the outsourcing company is responsible for allocating resources to your project, ensuring personal management and process quality. The dedicated resources include a full-cycle development team with Project Managers and Business Analysts outlining the project pipeline or offering complete services.

The outsourcing company is responsible for assigning tasks, dedicating team leaders, ensuring proper project management, scheduling tasks, and following up on the project status. The client holds the decision-making power in project management, but at varying degrees.

Out-staff Working Model

Out-staff or extended team means allocating some of the tasks to resources outside the company and providing them the space to work as well. Since the client is hiring individuals for specific tasks, they will be responsible for regulating the development process, working time, vacations, and salaries. They would be managing the project, promoting within the team, and ensuring the members are motivated.

Between the three options, startups and small-scale businesses prefer project-based working models. Mid-sized companies opt for a dedicated team, while enterprises hire specialists for specific tasks within the project’s budget.

Mode of Payment

With an extended team or out-staff hiring, you pay the individuals monthly salary like any other company employee. But if you pick a dedicated team or a project-based working model, you can choose the payment model as well.

A fixed price is applicable if the project is relatively small-scale, with a limited budget, a defined scope of work, and an estimated timeline. It is ideal for startups who also need to develop an MVP.

Time and Material, on the other hand, is called Pay as You Go by companies that use an Agile development process. The client and the development company decide on the hourly rates of each developer during the initial project meetings, then the client pays the dues based on the actual development time.

The software development companies choose Time and Material payment model when the scope of work is hard to predetermine. It is also the best option when clients need to make adjustments to the project requirements without changing the agreement.

Where to Find Outsource Agencies?

With the mobile app development industry progressing, there are various sources on the internet where you can search for outsourcing development companies. From freelancers to industry-leading agencies, there are sites dedicated to all:

B2B Directories – Clutch and Good Firm are two of the top B2B platforms listing software development companies for outsourcing app development. They group agencies based on their location, rating, and expertise.

Freelance Websites – Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour are top platforms for freelancers and employers to connect. Here you can hire expert individuals or outsourcing teams for a fixed-price or hourly rate.

Blogs – Development teams also run tech blogs where they post tips and case studies showcasing their expertise. Sites like the Manifest also post blogs listing top development companies in the world.

Design Networks – Full-cycle development companies offer both coding and designing services. Design networks like Behance or Dribble are platforms where freelancers or development teams showcase their skills. Here you can analyze their portfolio before outsourcing app development.

How Much Does It Cost to Outsource App Development?


App development cost depends on many factors, including the complexity of the app, features, platform, the tools used, and more. Even the location of the outsourcing company influences the total cost of the app. US-based development agencies and freelancers, generally charge higher than the offshore companies in Europe or India.

Additionally, freelancers’ hourly rates also differ by location. For example, a developer based in the US will charge up to $61 per hour, whereas a developer in India will cost $18 per hour. Similarly, a project manager in the US and Western Europe will charge from $40-$84 per hour, but in India or Eastern Europe, the rates will drop to $21-$37 per hour.

App development cost with a full-cycle development company will be $10,000 on average. Most project sizes range from $5000 to $10,000 including $10,000 maintenance costs per annum.

Based on the features or type of the app, here is a cost breakdown:

A photo-sharing social platform app like Instagram costs between $70,000 to $100,000.

A ride-sharing app like Uber costs between $100,000 to $1,500,000.

Marketplace app like nTrust or Etsy can range from $90,000 to $2,00,000.

Booking apps for rentals like Airbnb cost between $1,40,000 to $2,00,000.

Apps like WhatsApp or QuizUp charge between $61,000 and $69,000.

Business apps like Starbucks can cost from $70,000 to $1,00,000.

Matchmaking platforms like Tinder costs between $40,000 to $60,000.

Is Outsourcing Mobile App Development Right for You?

Outsourcing mobile app development is a risky feat, especially if you venture ahead unprepared. The choice of company or freelancer you hire will determine how smooth your experience goes with app development.
You can easily find efficient android app developers or iOS experts for your project with some research.

I hope the blog helps you understand the ins and out of outsourcing app development. Share your idea with our experts, and we’ll help you design the app to suit your business needs.



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