How Much Does It Cost to Make an App Like Instagram from Scratch?

Look at the Instagram these days. Such a brilliant idea of a pretty simple app turned out to be the one to overtake the entire globe. It’s used and adored worldwide, even though, it doesn’t offer many options besides its core purpose of sharing your photos with the friends.

But we guess it doesn’t even make sense to explain to you what this app is about, you already know it. For instance, if you are reading this piece in the US, there are quite big chances that you are one of the 88.48 million monthly users of Instagram, who is actively sharing, uploading and editing photos through the app, according to the Statista. Crazy number.

So probably nowadays, when you think to build a photo or, maybe, even video sharing app like Instagram, you might think whether it would be worth trying and what are the ways to get a positive outcome from such an idea. The answer is in the question. Think not how to make an app like Instagram but what are the reasons to build it and why your app will succeed.

In other words, why people would prefer your newly developed app over the old ones that already exist. The fact that now the market seems to be occupied with heavyweights such as Facebook or Instagram, for that matter, doesn’t mean that there is no space left for the newcomers.

Just think of the Snapchat, for example. It combines two major reasons for people to use this particular social media app: the ability to chat quickly and share images in real time. Add to such a small modern need some fun filters and you will get an idea for billion dollars. So does the story of the Snapchat teaches us anything? We believe it does. Don’t be intimidated by the outrageous popularity of the most used apps. There are tons of space.

The greatness of the Instagram these days doesn’t prove its irreplaceability. Those major apps have also started from having just a couple of users. What should be the best to do in your case is to think of what new you can bring to the internet community and whether it will be worth trying from the financial point of view. Fortunately for you, in this article, we would like to shed some light on how much it costs to make app like Instagram from scratch. So let’s start with the basics.

Must have features

The conversation about the developing costs is pretty much impossible without the general talk of how to build an app like Instagram. So let’s check what are the main features here and what are the basic “must haves” of every app for sharing photos?

After all, without a well-planned map of the future development, you will be stunned and confused by the numbers you might receive during the building process. Knowing what matters most and which features require your prior attention is crucial. So let’s see what are the top seven points we must know to build a photo sharing app like Instagram and how much time that usually takes. Developing work is a literate proof of the expression “time is money”, so you better know what are the steps you cannot skip.

Social media integration

It should be a top priority for all photo and video apps like Instagram. Simply because these days people use multiple social media to share their life updates. So your app should give people a chance to:

  • Upload pictures simultaneously on different social media apps;
  • Insert geolocation;
  • Tag people;

And so, there should be no need for them to go through the uploading process on the other apps. Users prefer their apps to do the boring job. This development stage takes less than 10 hours.

Creating and customizing user’s profiles

This option should be started with a possibility of authorization via Facebook or other social media (so users wouldn’t spend their time for filling in their personal information for hundred times) and ended up with a number of settings that help to adjust an app according to the user’s preferences. Those absolutely necessary functions will take from 70 to 118 hours of the developers work.

Chat and images sharing

Kind of an obvious feature but, at the same time, it is an essential one. The need for communication is nonnegotiable when the desire to exchange pictures is the main reason why customers have your app in the first place. To find the ways, methods, specifics in design to share and show the user’s photos in the most attractive manner is a true challenge. That leaves us with at least 130 development hours.

Set of designing/editing tools

Once again, if you want to create an app like Instagram, you need to know that Instagram gained such huge popularity not just because of its simplicity and uniqueness by that time but also due to its original photo filters. People love playing with them, looking at different outcomes with different effects.

Now, for sure, developing a photo sharing app for iPhone will, once again, differ from Android devices because of the specifics of those filters. Now, adding already known filters will take about 48 hours but creating new ones take about 15 hours each, so we see the difference here.


Not many words have to be said here besides the most crucial. A guarantee of a protection of personal information and prevention of any chances of hacking is a necessity these days. Surely the more time you put into that, the higher price you pay but safeness on the internet is one of the biggest values nowadays. It’s no longer your home but your phone is your castle, so.


It is not the secret that many Instagram users are making for living by earning on their profiles. There is a pretty easy to-do list for that. All your user will need is:

  1. A decent amount of followers;
  2. Interesting and unique content;
  3. Frequent updates of the content;
  4. A possibility for advertising and good sponsors offers;

Here is a very good combination for high incomes online. If your app is capable giving it to the users, it immediately becomes more attractive to them. Which means you gain your investors as well.


If you come up with developing an Instagram clone, you have to work hard to make a unique product, so it will be clear that your app is something new and fresh on the market. Give the freedom for the users so they can make personal customizations as well. If they are enjoying the Instagram design, no problem. By if they came to your app, you have already won. Here we have our final 90-120 hours of work. Minimum.

Deepening into the costs specifics

What we have seen above is a pure objective proof that one idea of the single app might turn into dozens of the interpretations. Therefore, the costs for such a project might and will vary a lot. Specifically, when it comes to a pretty rough idea of the clone app since even by copying the core functions from a prototype you still need to work twice harder on those features that will define the uniqueness of your product. So, as we see, the total estimation of the financial investments directly depends on the number of features.

Although, we would like to draw your attention to those few criteria which you can actually plan far ahead. In general, the cost depends on how many hours the developers need to spend on all of the options you want to have in your app. In its turn, the time depends on the complexity of the issue.

Therefore, when you want to play safe, which is always a good recommendation for startup, you might start with developing a simple app but with a great potential to grow into something bigger. Creating a good map for all your ideas and targets is a pretty useful tactics. This way you will have a vision of what chances the app has on the market and while it is out, you will have a possibility to improve what needs to be improved. Costs also will vary depending on the platform – whether it is iOS or Android, the costs for the app might be different.

Last but not least, a location of the developing company also matters a lot. The price you might pay for the custom application to the developers, let’s say, from India will be completely different from the one you will have to pay to the North American developers, and that’s a famous unarguable fact. If in States the development of the app like Instagram might cost you from $100,000 to $300,000 over three-six month period, then in Asia it will cost three or even four times less. Although, the truth is, that even if the quality of the work might not differ, the prestige and the advertisement might outplay the desire to save some funds. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe becomes a solid player in the web development sphere and a “safe zone” for your pockets.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, this piece was helpful enough to clear things up and to shed some light on the most common and important issues when it comes to the development of photo and video sharing apps.
If reading this was caused not by pure curiosity but actually by the direct interest to the related topics, you are always welcome to write us and to find out way more information about these type of things. Our team is always ready to help you with a professional advice or a long-term cooperation. It’s all up to you and your business targets. Although, it is much easier and fascinating to go through the development process with an experienced team of developers.