How Much Does it Cost to Build an Augmented Reality App?

Yesterday I just finished binge-watching a truly genius TV-show called Black Mirror, impressed beyond believing. That whole concept of the influence that digital technologies make on people’s lives... Wow!

And just a week ago we discussed a hot topic called How Much Does It Take to Create a Virtual Reality App, so today, continuing the theme, we would like to explore a slightly similar subject – augmented reality (AR) apps. But there is a difference between virtual reality (VR) and AR that separate them regarding development nuances.

The first technology allows to create a completely artificial world for the users to merge with a simulated environment. While augmented reality concept is a part of the mixed reality, which means that 2D and 3D graphic elements are placed into the real world environment with the help of digital tools for users to interact with them according to the position/orientation of their smartphones’ cameras. Special development algorithms for AR mobile apps makes it possible for us to experience a marvelous breakthrough in various fields of our lives.

“In 1990 the term ‘Augmented Reality’ was attributed
to Thomas Caudell, a former Boeing Company researcher”

Right now there are top 10 spheres where the AR technologies are used successfully:

  • Architecture & Real estate
  • Industrial Design
  • Education & Publishing
  • Retail business
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Healthcare & Biology research
  • Military & Defense
  • Video Games & Entertainment
  • Fashion and beauty industry
  • Navigation & Translation
  • Travel & Tourism
  • Food & Beverage

Augmented Reality Top 7 Spheres

The perspectives of using such apps are so promising and revolutionary, there are already some very impressing results in all of those industries. But... there is always a ‘but’.

The augmented reality app development cost is, indeed, not so attractive. It’s high at best and super huge at worst. I mean... even to start with difficulties of the custom augmented reality application development – the process is precise and far from a childish play. This is why the acceptance and integration of these apps are so slow for now. Let’s see, what we can do to navigate you and drive away your fears?

How much does it cost to make an AR app? Exploring the road bumps

The first thing one should understand, that, as with any other type of the mobile app, there isn’t a strictly approved price for augmented reality application. You can ask any developer or any mobile app development company – they won’t give you a suitable answer unless you answer some of their questions first.

We would like to help you be prepared for such conversation, below there is a list of the road bumps that you have to keep in mind while expanding your idea of the future application.

Bump #1. You want it free or low-cost? You got it, but...

There are dozens of the free or low-cost digital tools (Layar, Aurasma, Zappar, 4D Studio etc.) along with ready made SDKs and API, app’s clones, and tutorials for any newbie who wants to make an AR app. Even some video lessons on YouTube like How To Create Augmented Reality Apps.

It’s okay if you desire to do it yourself, it’s a nice experience for beginners. But you should remember, that such product won’t make it to the marketplace because of its low quality and cheap execution.

There is no unique customer experience or even no brand recognition. Anyway, we can recommend such resources as  ‘Augmented Reality in Mobile Devices with App Tutorial for Android’ and ‘How to Build an AR Android App with Vuforia and Unity‘. And as for iOS, there is a cool guide ’Augmented Reality iOS Tutorial: Location Based.

Bump #2. Idea Concept & Business model

For starters, the final price of the app always depends on multiple factors, but overall it can be named as a  project complexity. Before you go to some professionals with your idea, you have to be ready with the whole concept and your general goals.

It concerns also the business model and marketing strategy – do you want your app to be free on the market or will it be a fixed price when you sell it to some app store? Will there be in-app purchases or just advertisement? Are you going to pass the product to an app store or design it for installation on the specific devices?

You need to think it all through to be able to compete among other monsters of the Marketplace. Make a press-kit for developers with the strictly described crucial points regarding app’s purpose.

Bump #3. Functions & Features

When you plan to build an augmented reality for Android or iOS, one of the primary goals for a developer is to provide the customers with an explicit and catchy UI/UX design. Name of the product, an icon and a list of must-have features one wants to implement.

So, make a comprehensive mockup by determining functionality and those features to ease this cause, do some sketching and quick prototyping for your product to lower the cost and speed up the negotiation process with the app development company. Coming in prepared means that, most likely, you’re gonna get more justified and appropriate price for your product.


Bump #4. Platform

Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone or Kindle – AR can be implemented on all of those platforms, but any choice you make going to influence the final cost. The cross-platform app is going to be a fairly expensive, just so you know your opportunities. Developing an augmented reality android application gonna be a wise decision only in case if you have a nice big budget and make some tests for the first concept of your product.

So, an iOS AR app rightfully considered as a cheaper one compared to Android platform. But according to the recent research, the number of the Android users across the world are much higher than iOS, not to mention Blackberry and others. I guess it’s one more motivation to choose the Android for a startup, even though it’s going to be costly and a little longer regarding delivery time.

Bump #5. Technical Requirements & Creative Content

Yes, a lot of information to process and much work to do, but the road is running to the end. Besides basic points like features and functions, you should also define the type of the app you want – will it be for mounted displays or for devices where the image is projected onto the user’s eyes directly.

For which industry you plan to make the product and what problems it will solve? Do you want an API component and a Social Media integration? Based on the answers to these questions there would be a different set of technical requirements, therefore, a whole other price. So, choose carefully and take time before you make some decisions.

The creative content of the AR app’s also matters more than you can think. The more interesting and sophisticating your app would be the longer a user will stay with you and spend a completely unexpected amount of money for your profit. And we are talking here about every little detail to polish: data collection systems, AR targets a user can activate with an app, quantity of 3D models and animation elements, etc.


So, we reached the point where it suffice to say, that If you want a product with a unique user experience, brand recognition, and loyal customers, it’s in your best interests to ask for a help of augmented reality app developers. Yes, it’ll boost the expenses for your project and the efforts are needed, but the following results will bring you a lot more profit when your app would be professional and trustworthy.

How to look for an AR development company? Searching quality

Well, keeping in mind you desire to win over the Marketplace, we have to outline what should you seek when turning for such service. Along with the technology stack (like developing from a scratch or with the help of ready-made SDKs), you have to look for the experienced and creative people with special skills, considering their hourly rates, required deadline and the complexity of the project.

In addition to this, you should know that even if you think about your idea as a small adventure, you’ll probably gonna need a whole team of dedicated professionals to make your dream come true. Mobile app developers, graphic designers, 3D artists, quality and project managers...

And there are two types of solutions you can look for – industry vertical AR apps and custom AR applications. The first ones will cost you literally from around $300,000 – 500,000. It’s a serious branch that uses really serious resources for a greater good. I mean, for some big industrial projects and other deep purposes. And if we talk about some giants from a development field, their price won’t start lower than $500,000 and can reach the numbers like 1 or 2 millions of dollars.

But the more common choice is, in fact, the second type – custom AR solutions (from companies and freelancers). Which is a lot less expensive, considering that the cost to develop an AR app for an iPhone, for example, typically start from around $30,000. Depending on your requirements on technical specification, the price can be approximately $50,000 –  $300,000.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you that this would be the final price, because there are various expenses that will be necessary, like post-launch marketing campaign or technical support for the app, constant improvements, and updates.

Augmented Reality Quality Development

So, summing all of the above up, when reaching out to AR apps development company look for the quality of such aspects:

  • Experience in 3D AR field development (including 3D models, Motion Graphics, Video Production and Animation)
  • Portfolio of the launched projects with the description of the used tools
  • Possibility to test the developers’ skills
  • Unique solutions for brand promotion, products or services

Yes, it can be a difficult task, but there is no better way to create a truly profitable AR app and ensure a long road success of your investments.


Despite all the obstacles, the perspectives for investors are so enchanting it’s hard to resist. But to build an AR mobile app you should, first of all, do your homework – research the market and learn from the experience of the best already made applications. It won’t be easy, be prepared, but there is nothing that can stop you!

We hope, this post was really helpful and if you’re looking for someone to make your dreams come true, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our company has a level of experience, qualified developers, and a huge desire to conquer any challenge you might throw at us. So feel free to ask your questions – we’ll always try to find the best solution for you!

Yours sincerely,
TecSynt Team

Tecsynt mobile development company

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