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How Much Does It Cost to Create a Chat App: Its Features, Tech Stack & Business Model

  • By Hidden Brains
  • June 23, 2023
Cost to Create a Chat App

How much does it cost to create a chat app like WhatsApp? Of course, if you have decided to create a messaging app, then app development cost will your primary concern. 

Though if you search it on the internet many resources will claim you to develop a full-fledged chat app for $10,000 to $15,000 without even knowing your business requirements. Falling for the lowest app development cost is always tempting but you need to remember that it’s nothing more than a marketing trap for you.

Estimating the cost to create a chat app, undertakes many factors like its complexity, features, functionalities, technologies, the hourly cost to hire mobile app developers in the UK, and more. 

To get a real estimation of “how much does it cost to build a chat app” you need to start from scratch…

Why Chat Apps Are Surging in Popularity?

Well, do you remember when you last picked up your phone to send a text message? Right from the last decade, the majority of smartphone users have switched to chat apps for every small or big conversation. Before you make a decision to create a messaging app or trust our words, you need to check out below market statistics…

Cost to Create a Chat App

Image Source: statista.com

In a world where communication is more important than ever, the market for chat apps and instant messaging applications has experienced a remarkable surge in growth. 

As the digital era continues to unfold, the rise of chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Telegram is nothing short of extraordinary, bringing people closer together, transcending borders, and transforming the way we communicate in our daily lives. 

If you’re convinced enough to create a chat app but not sure where to get started then you can hire a mobile app development company in the UK. They will guide you through the entire development process. 

But, this blog guide will tell you how to create a chat app in 3 simple steps…

3 Simple Steps To Create a Chat App or Messaging App Like WhatsApp

Creating a chat app or messaging app like WhatsApp involves several technical complexities, but here are three simplified steps to get you started:

Cost to Create a Chat App

Image Source: ctfassets.net

Step 1: Define the Core Features and Functionality

Instead of just jumping into the app development process, it is logical to take out some time for planning as developing a chat app like Whatsapp is a huge process. 

  • Start by outlining the essential features your chat app should have. WhatsApp-like apps typically include features such as sending/receiving text messages, media sharing (photos, videos, documents), voice and video calling, group chats, and online status indicators.
  • Consider additional features like end-to-end encryption for secure messaging, message deletion, message status (delivered, read), push notifications, contact management, and user profiles.

Prioritize the features based on their importance and feasibility for your app’s initial version.

Step 2: Choose the Technology Stack

Selecting the right technology stack is crucial for developing a robust chat app. Here are some common components:

  • Backend: Choose a programming language and framework for server-side development. Popular options include Node.js with Express, Python with Django or Flask, or Ruby on Rails.
  • Database: Select a database system to store user information, messages, and media files. Common choices include MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB.
  • Real-time Communication: Implement real-time messaging using technologies like WebSockets or a dedicated messaging protocol like XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol).
  • Mobile Development: If you’re targeting multiple operating platforms, then consider hiring React native app developer in the UK to make your app function on various platforms including iOS, Android, Windows, and more. Apart from Flutter will be a worthy option for cross-platform app development.
  • Cloud Services: Utilize cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for hosting, storage, and push notifications.

Choosing the right technology and app development frameworks can help you design a better UI/UX using ready-to-use widgets.

Step 3: Develop and Deploy the App

This is the core of any app that decides how your app will function practically, here it is worth choosing a top software development company in the UK that has a team to handle the backend and frontend development of the app. 

Start developing the app by setting up the backend infrastructure, including user authentication, storage, and messaging logic:

  • Build APIs to handle user registration, authentication, and data exchange between the server and the client apps.
  • Develop the front-end components, including the user interface for chats, contact lists, media sharing, and settings.
  • Implement real-time messaging functionality using the chosen technology stack. Handle message encryption, delivery status, and push notifications.
  • Perform thorough testing to ensure the app functions as expected, both on different devices and under varying network conditions.
  • Deploy the backend infrastructure to a server or cloud platform of your choice. Configure and optimize the server environment for scalability and performance.
  • Publish the mobile apps to their respective app stores (Google Play Store, Apple App Store) or distribute them via other channels, depending on your target audience.

Remember, developing a chat app like WhatsApp is a complex undertaking, and the approach you take to build an app can have a major impact on the cost to create a chat app. So if you are a startup and running out of time and budget, then you can choose to create an MVP of a chat app with basic features. 

Must-Have Features and Functionalities To Create a Chat App

Another major factor that can contribute to the cost to create a chat app, is the features and functionalities you choose to integrate into your app. To build a full-fledged app, you need to have a huge budget and time, so let’s check out what features are necessary to include if you are looking to create an MVP of the chat app. 

To create a comprehensive chat app similar to WhatsApp, you would need to consider various features and functionalities for the user panel, admin panel, and business panel. Here are some key elements to include:

User Panel:

  • User Registration: Allow users to create accounts using their phone numbers or email addresses.
  • Contact Management: Enable users to add contacts and manage their contact lists.
  • Instant Messaging: Provide real-time messaging capabilities with support for text, emojis, images, videos, and voice messages. Since Android and iOS devices have different interfaces, you can hire an Android app developer in the UK to customize emojis that seamlessly work on Android devices. 
  • Group Chats: Allow users to create or join group chats with multiple participants.
  • Voice and Video Calls: Include voice and video calling features for one-on-one or group conversations.
  • Multimedia Sharing: Enable users to share photos, videos, documents, and location information.
  • End-to-End Encryption: Implement strong encryption to ensure privacy and security of user conversations.
  • Status Updates: Allow users to post text, photos, or videos as their status for others to see.
  • Notifications: Send push notifications for new messages, calls, or other relevant updates.
  • Settings and Customization: Provide options for users to personalize their chat experiences, such as notification preferences, chat wallpapers, and privacy settings.

Business Panel:

  • Business Profiles: Allow businesses to create dedicated profiles with relevant information, such as contact details, business descriptions, and working hours.
  • Customer Support: Provide options for businesses to offer customer support via chat, including automated responses and chatbot integration.
  • Broadcast Messaging: Enable businesses to send messages to multiple users simultaneously for marketing or announcements.
  • Analytics Insights: Provide analytics and reporting features to help businesses analyze customer engagement, message delivery rates, and campaign performance.
  • Payments and Transactions: Integrate payment options to facilitate transactions within the app for products or services.

Admin Panel:

  • User Management: Enable administrators to manage user accounts, including user roles, permissions, and account moderation.
  • Reporting and Moderation: Implement tools to monitor and moderate user activity, such as reporting and blocking features.
  • Analytics and Insights: Provide analytics dashboards to track user engagement, usage patterns, and performance metrics.
  • System Management: Allow administrators to configure and manage server settings, backups, and updates.
  • Content Management: Enable administrators to manage app content, including FAQs, terms of service, and privacy policies.

The average cost to create a chat app with these basic features will be around $15,000 to $18,000, depending on your business requirements. But what if you are competing with a chat app like Whatsapp?

Since Whatsapp is leading the domain, so why not get some influence from Whatsapp to create a chat app that also drives success for your business? Let’s check out the core features and functionalities required to create an instant messaging app in 2023 like Whatsapp.

Unique Features to Include In Chat App To Make It Successful

Cost to Create a Chat App

Image Source: litslink.com

To make a chat app stand out and achieve success, it’s crucial to offer unique features that differentiate it from competitors. Here are some ideas for unique features to consider:

  • Voice and Video Filters: Integrate fun and creative filters for voice and video calls, allowing users to add amusing effects or alter their voices during conversations.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Messaging: Incorporate AR technology to enable users to send interactive and immersive messages using augmented reality stickers, animations, or 3D objects.
  • Chatbots and AI Assistance: Implement intelligent chatbots or virtual assistants to provide instant help, suggestions, or recommendations within the chat app, enhancing the user experience and providing valuable information.
  • Self-Destructing Messages: Offer an option for users to send self-destructing messages that automatically disappear after a certain period, ensuring privacy and confidentiality.
  • Personalized Stickers and GIFs: Allow users to create and share their custom stickers and GIFs, adding a personal touch to their conversations and fostering creativity.
  • Multi-Language Translation: Integrate a real-time translation feature that automatically translates messages into different languages, facilitating communication between users who speak different languages.
  • Social Integration: Allow users to connect their chat app profiles with their social media accounts, enabling seamless sharing of updates, photos, or videos between platforms.
  • Intelligent Message Prioritization: Utilize machine learning algorithms to prioritize and highlight important messages or conversations based on user preferences, ensuring crucial information doesn’t get missed.
  • Contextual Recommendations: Leverage user data and AI algorithms to offer contextual recommendations within the chat app, such as suggesting nearby places to meet or recommending relevant content based on conversation topics.

Integrating these advanced features into the chat app can increase your chances of setting a benchmark in the market of chat apps. But the cost to create a chat app can increase up to $20,000. These are the rough estimations to create a chat app. Let’s check out the final cost breakdown of creating a chat app in reality…

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Chat App?

Predicting the average cost to create a chat app is a challenging task even for the industry’s best Android app development companies in the UK. There are a number of factors that can deeply affect the app development process which include:

  • Complexity of the app: It includes the type of features and functionalities you integrate into your app. The complex features will take higher time to develop and translate into expensive development costs.
  • Choice of OS: Where do you want to launch your app- whether it’s a native app or a cross-platform app? Developing a cross-platform app can bring a 40% difference in the app development cost and save heaps of time as it uses a single code base.
  • Location of the Development team: The geolocation of the app development team can impact overall app development cost. Different locations have different hourly rates for coders. If you choose to hire dedicated developers in the UK and India, the hourly cost would be ranging between $10 to $25. On the other hand, the hourly cost to hire engineers in Canada and USA will be far higher and may cost around $50 to $100 per hour.

These are the few major factors that greatly affect the development cost. There are other multiple factors like the cost to design UI/UX, app testing, deployment, backend development, research and planning, and more. 

So if we conclude all such factors, then here we have provided a cost breakdown for developing a chat app with different features and complexity levels.

HBUK Web Blog What it takes to build a realtime chat or messaging app Google Docs

Image Source: hiddenbrains.co.uk

Before you trust these estimations, it is worth discussing your project details with the experts for the real-estimations, as every business is different and required different solutions. So there is no-fit-to-all cost and solution. 

Best Monetization Strategies to Make Profit From Chat Apps

To monetize a chat app and generate revenue, you can consider implementing the following strategies:

Cost to Create a Chat App

Image Source: rubygarage.com

In-App Advertising:

Display targeted advertisements within the chat app. This can include banner ads, interstitial ads, or native ads that seamlessly blend with the app’s design. Advertisers can pay for impressions or clicks, and you can choose between various advertising networks or implement direct partnerships with advertisers.

Freemium Model:

Offer a free version of the chat app with basic features and limited functionality. Then, provide premium features or additional perks through in-app purchases or subscription plans. This model allows users to upgrade to a paid version for an enhanced experience.

Stickers and Emojis Marketplace:

Create a marketplace within the chat app where users can purchase or download premium stickers, emojis, themes, or other personalized content. Collaborate with artists, designers, or brands to offer a wide range of attractive and exclusive content.

In-App Purchases:

Enable users to buy virtual goods, such as animated backgrounds, unique chat bubble designs, or special effects, to enhance their chat experience. You can also introduce exclusive premium features or add-ons that users can purchase.

Business and Enterprise Solutions:

Develop a separate suite of services or tools specifically tailored for businesses or enterprises. This can include features like team collaboration, customer support integration, advanced analytics, or enterprise-level security. Offer subscription plans or licensing options for businesses to access these enhanced functionalities.

Before you make a decision, make sure you analyze your target audience, their preferences, and the market dynamics to determine the most suitable monetization strategies for your chat app. 


How Do Hidden Brains UK Can Help You Create a Chat App Under Budget?

With this blog guide, it’s clear that chat apps have a strong market share and it’s safe enough to say that chat apps are here to stay in the future as well. To be a part of this market share, all you need is to hire a mobile app developer in the UK, that can help you build a chat app that integrates unique and innovative features that cater to the changing needs of the market. The chat app with different feature sets can help you stand apart in the market competition and increase your chances to become a dominant leader in the chat app market.

And in this competitive race, Hidden Brains UK can be your trusted app development partner that can help you start your project right from ideation to final deployment. For more details, you can contact us or drop a query below.


How long does it take to develop a chat app?

The development time can vary depending on factors like the app’s complexity, desired features, team size, and development approach. Generally, it can take several weeks to several months to build a chat app.

How can I ensure the security of user data in a chat app?

Implement security measures like end-to-end encryption, secure user authentication, and secure data storage. Regularly update and patch security vulnerabilities, follow best practices, and comply with relevant data protection regulations.

Should I develop a chat app for a specific platform (iOS/Android) or go for cross-platform development?

It depends on your target audience and budget. Developing separate native apps for iOS and Android provides the best user experience, but cross-platform development using frameworks like React Native or Flutter can save time and resources.

How do I handle scalability for a chat app?

Plan and architect your app to handle increasing user loads. Utilize cloud-based infrastructure, employ horizontal scaling techniques, implement caching mechanisms, and regularly optimize database performance.

Do I need to obtain legal permissions or licenses to create a chat app?

You should consult legal experts to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. Aspects like user data privacy, terms of service, and intellectual property rights should be considered.

How can I monetize my chat app?

Consider strategies like in-app advertising, freemium models, offering premium features or subscriptions, in-app purchases, or creating a marketplace for stickers and emojis. Choose monetization methods that align with your app’s target audience and user experience.

How do I handle ongoing maintenance and updates for my chat app?

Allocate resources for regular maintenance, bug fixes, security updates, and feature enhancements. Continuously monitor user feedback, track performance metrics, and stay updated with platform updates to ensure the app remains reliable and up-to-date.

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