How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App Like SnapChat?

Published: April 25, 2017

9 min read

Last updated: May 2, 2022

Which team do you belong to? Fans? Haters? Actually, it’s not so important because today’s article is about how to benefit from creating an app like Snapchat and how much it would cost for you. Follow me and we will find out!

Snapchat may be one of the most contradictory apps for now. Some people are not great fans of filters and lenses (just like the guy who is writing this article, but work is work so I’ll try to be impersonal) while others use it almost round-the-clock for chatting and sticking dog noses, flowers and rainbows on their faces.

Image by Bennie B

In addition, Snapchat recently got a doubtful glory after its founder, Evan Spiegel, had frankly said that the app is “only for rich people”. Not the best way to get fans. Since thousands of people sharing #UninstallSnapchat and #BoycottSnapchat you have good chances to take the niche by developing a similar app with less shady history. Don’t wanna miss this opportunity? Read on!

To snap or not to snap: what should you know about Snapchat?

Snapchat is a mobile messenger that lets users share videos and pictures, edit photos and chat with others. Nothing miraculous, isn’t it? So why has it become so popular?

That’s all your potential users

That’s all your potential users (image from statista)

The app achieved its first major success due to the self-destructed videos and images that disappeared some time after they were viewed. Back then the idea was off the beaten track. And it really boomed on the market. A few years later we knew it as Stories and could see how other giants like Facebook, Instagram stole adopted this social mechanics to their apps.

“What about a bunch of other well-known Snapchat’s features?” you may ask. They were devised a little bit later and kept the app popular all this time. Let’s take a closer look at the features Snapchat has brought to the world.

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Top 10 features that made Snapchat popular

Did you know, that just in 3 years Snapchat managed to triple the number of daily active users? Take a look:

Snapchat shows a great growth during the last several years

Snapchat shows a great growth during the last several years (image from statista)

How did they manage to do that? By constantly developing the app and improving it with fresh features. Which ones? It’s a good question if you are planning to create an app like Snapchat, so read on.

📸 Snaps

Snaps are photos and videos taken in the app. Their ability to self-destruct is the feature that made Snapchat so popular. The modern app also has a great diversity of tools that can be used to edit your content (e.g. filters, text captions, drawings and others).

👻 Lenses

If you have ever heard of Snaphat you definitely heard about lenses as well

If you have ever heard of Snaphat you definitely heard about lenses as well

This is definitely the most distinctive Snapchat’s feature for now. Lenses are the funny and a bit goofy visual effects you can overlay on your photo or video. Who hasn’t seen photos or videos with dog noses and ears or sweet flower halos just like the one above? That’s it!

👫 Adding friends

That’s where guys showed creative approach. You can add new friends using their phone number or username but it’s so worn-out. Snapchat offers you 2 more ways to update contacts:

  • Using a snapcode (located on the profile page) which can be scanned from another user’s device.
  • By adding located nearby snapchatters.

⏳ Stories

We may know Stories from other apps but it was Snapchat who has invented it

We may know Stories from other apps but it was Snapchat who has invented it

While snaps and lenses seem to us like an essential of Snapchat, this feature went much further. Stories are the videos and photos that remain available for you and your followers only for 24 hours. When time is up, the carriage turns into a pumpkin - stories disappear.

Sounds similar enough, doesn’t it? Of course, because nowadays stories are used by Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and others as well.

📰 Discover

On the Discover screen you can find collections of Stories from different editorial teams (like CNN, National Geographic, MTV or others). However, hurry up, because these news are going to disappear in 24 hours just like ordinary Stories.

🤖 Stickers

Stickers are a usual part of our communication now

Stickers are a usual part of our communication now

Stickers are the catchy and engaging images that people add to their photos and videos or use while chatting. It may seem like an unimportant feature, however, we advise you to include it in your chat app development scope.

📞 Video/audio calls

The update Chat 2.0 made it possible for users to make video and audio calls. Moreover, it allows you to send your friends voice and video notes just like usual snaps.

🌍 Geofilters

It's another way to customize your snap

It's another way to customize your snap

This feature is something similar to stickers and lenses. It offers you to create graphical overlays depending on a certain location or ongoing event.

Read Also

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💬 Chatting

If you want to make an app like Snapchat you should remember that the last one was conceived as a messaging app. Guys did really great, providing chatting with a set of fascinating features (like snaps and a bunch of others that we are going to review right now).

💸 Snapcash

Snapchat regulary comes up with surprising solutions

Snapchat regulary comes up with surprising solutions

It’s a financial addition to the original Snapchat app that allows users make payments and send money to their friends.

How does Snapchat generate revenue?

If you are interested how to make an app like Snapchat then you may also be curious about its sources of income.

Snapchat's team has done a really good job and came up with several ways to monetize the app.

Snapchat's team has done a really good job and came up with several ways to monetize the app.

So, to generate revenue Snapchat uses:

  1. Paid advertising (which includes Discoveries from the popular channels). It costs may vary, but commonly Snapchat takes from 10 to 15 cents per view. Multiply this by 500,000-1,000,000 views daily and you will get insane sum.
  2. Purchased content (e.g. some lenses or geofilters sets). McDonald’s was first to pay Snapchat for special geofilters to cover all restaurants in the USA. Nowadays many other companies create own geofilters for advertising purposes.
  3. Advertising API. Additionally, Snapchat has opened ads API. It allows users to run large-scale advertising campaigns and transfers part of the revenue to the app.

Your step-by-step guide to creating a Snapchat clone app

All of the above is the Snapchat story. We may like this app or not, use it or not but we can’t deny it is the success story many want to follow. Read on and you will find out how much does Snapchat cost and what should you do to create a similar app.

I propose to start with a four-stage process.

Step 1. Find a team

Count it as done cause you are already on our blog :)

Speaking seriously, not only the success but also costs of your app significantly depend on the team you choose. While the rates of companies from the USA and Western Europe are from $60 to $200 per hour, teams from Eastern Europe can do the same job for $30-60 per hour.

As rule of thumb, a team consists of:

  • a project manager (the one you talk to);
  • 2 developers (ones who make all things work);
  • a designer (the one who turns your app into a piece of art).

If your project scope is too large, you will have to hire more people

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Step 2. Think about an MVP

MVP stands for a minimum viable product. What is it? It’s a product with a minimum set of features that solves a definite problem of users. It allows you to spend as little resources as possible to engage your first users and get useful feedback.

At this stage you should decide which features you consider as the most important ones. We advise you to start from small and scale properly in order to reduce risks and save your time, money and efforts.

Step 3. Choose a platform

Choosing the right platform to build a chat app like Snapchat is a half of success. Think of your potential users and your own goals. Here are a few useful hints for you.


  • Owns 64% of the world’s mobile market (twice more than iOS).
  • Brings higher revenue from in-app ads.
  • It takes more time and resources to design an app.


  • Solid market share in the USA and Europe.
  • Brings more revenue on the average.
  • The publication process is more difficult and strict.

If you want to get more insights about differences between these 2 platforms, you can check our article “Android vs iOS Development: Which Platform is Better?”.

Step 4. Choose a contract type

Another point that directly influences chat app development cost is the contract type.

Fixed Price model is based on rigid planning. To have a deal both parties (a client and a vendor) should agree on the predetermined price of a project and explicitly define each other’s responsibilities before the work begins. However, it’s not the best choice for startups. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to get the perfect scope, especially if we are talking about big projects.

When using Time & Material approach you pay the actual cost of the work, which is usually measured in hours. The development process length is not so predetermined and the whole project planning is not so strict and immutable. And you don’t overpay, among other things.

You can also check our article “Time and Material vs Fixed Price Contracts” where we compare both models and share some useful tips on choosing between them.

What would be the estimation for a Snapchat clone app?

Snapchat clone app estimate in hours









Friends list




Selfdestructive messages




















Image editing




Thus, the FrontEnd part would cost you about $16.775 for iOS and/or $17.775 for Android. The BackEnd which will be necessary will cost around $15.600. And not to forget the UI - here we have around $1.200.

However, this is only a rough estimate that can’t fully cover all possible expenses. But if you share your idea with us, we can prepare a more precise estimate exactly for your app idea.

Development tips

If you are a tech-guy you may be interested in some development insights about building an app like Snapchat. Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of tools that will come in handy for you. Take a look:

  • You can use Firebase, QuickBlox or Sendbird SDKs for a messenger app development. By the way, our guys had a negative experience with Twilio SDK and don’t advise you to use it for this purpose.
  • In order to find out user’s location (it’s necessary for geofilters or adding nearby friends), our developers advise using Core Location Framework for iOS or the Android SDK Class on Android.
  • For video communications you can use ooVoo SDK or TokBox SDK (also supports audio and text messaging).
  • Mirror Reality SDK is your helper when it comes to lenses. It enables creating real-time video face effects which are a well-known Snapchat’s feature.

Usefl hint: We also suggest you checking out this tutorial on integrating a chat in your app


At the time of its inception, Snapchat was something innovative. It has definitely changed the way of online communications by enhancing user'’s capabilities. Since you can’t literally copy the path and success of Snapchat, you can develop your own chat app. And we are ready to help you!

You already know an approximate Snapchat clone cost, but we can provide you with a more detailed estimate if you contact us!

Take your chance and good luck!

Develop an App Like Snapchat!

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