How much does it cost to build an app like Snapchat

How much does it cost to build an app like Snapchat

Snapchat materialized as a game-changer in the world of apps. It soon got famous for garnering tremendous success in the industry. With a substantial following, the app has about 22 million downloads.

The success story has been tempting users as well as many entrepreneurs. Seeing its massive profits, entrepreneurs got attracted to the idea of developing apps like Snapchat.

If you are one of these businesspersons, then the first and foremost thing that should be in your mind is cost. Yes! Cost constitutes the most crucial part of a project life cycle and the factor that determines the entire project.

Thus, keeping in view the importance of cost estimation, this article will help you get a reasonable estimate of the project cost before you start working on it.

  • Current Snapchat stats
  • How to Make an App Similar to Snapchat in 7 steps
  • How Snapchat makes money
  • The Snapchat App Core Functionality
  • Tech Stack for the Snapchat-like app
  • How much does it cost to build an app like Snapchat?
  • Recommendation From Clustox Experts
  • The Bottom Line

How Does Snapchat Work?

Snapchat is a photo-sharing social media hugely famous for its automatic message-deleting feature. The app enables users to take pictures, apply lenses and share them with friends in a chat or as a story publicly.

Beside this, Snapchat offers features like live video chat, Bitmoji (avatars), discovering content, and more. Once the user has read the conversation or seen the pictures sent, they get deleted. The feature allured many users into using it.

Moreover, its recent update allows users to create their AR filters, adding to the app’s exclusivity.

The Daydream Coming True!

Suppose you’re a college student who develops a photo messaging app with your buddies. Everybody says that it’s a terrible idea.

But then again, several years later, Facebook or Google offer you from $3 to $4 billion to buy it, but you reject the offer. In another three years, your company is worth $20 billion.

It might seem like a daydream coming true, but it’s a true story. This is the success story of Snapchat, a mobile messenger with text, photo, and video content that disappears a few seconds after it is received.

Snapchat’s success inspires a lot of entrepreneurs, and we receive a lot of requests to estimate the cost to build an app like Snapchat. So, if you want to create a similar app, read on. In this article, you will learn how to create Snapchat and the estimated development cost.

Current Snapchat Stats

Currently, there are numerous social media platforms. However, the latest statistics show us that Snapchat is the leading social media network in the United States and France.

Snapchat copy app might be a good idea for a startup. You can create a Snapchat clone, add some new features, and get a slice of the action. Just have a look at Snapchat’s stats below:

  • Snapchat Q4 report said, in 2018 the app had 187 million daily users
  • Snapchat’s daily video views have increased by 400% year-on-year.
  • More than 60% of 13- to 34-year-old U.S. smartphone users are on the service.

But there is more:

From the beginning, Snapchat owners didn’t care about making money. But later, the app provided several ways of generating revenue.

  • In 2015 Snapchat revenue amounted to $100 million
  • In 2018, Snapchat generated more than $389.82 million in revenue.

As we can see, the Snapchat multimedia messaging app is very popular among users and generates significant revenue.

How to Make an App Similar to Snapchat in 7 steps

Now, let’s dig deeper into the Snapchat-like app development process, which includes:

Step 1. Discovery phase

The main goal of this stage is to find out the functional and non-functional requirements for the future project, estimate the project budget, and business needs.

Step 2. Documents

During this phase, business analysts and project managers make the project’s stipulations, user stories, and other project-related manuscripts that describe how your app will function.

Step 3. Prototyping

Then, the mobile development team generates archetypes of your future app sections and user journey and sends them to you for further perfection.

Step 4. UI/UX Design

Based on the screen prototype, the design team develops the design for your app.

Step 5. Development

When the design is complete, the mobile development team integrates all the essential features into your app. As the development stage moves forward, your Snapchat-like app developer might illuminate specific requirements toward the development’s functionality.

Step 6. QA

The quality assurance team steers tests to ensure that the application is bug-free.

Step 7. Deployment

When the messenger like Snapchat is ready, the team will deploy it to the workspace.

Snapchat Features

Snapchat creators work tirelessly in repeatedly updating the application. The feat of Snapchat relies entirely on the attractive features it offers. Before you start developing an app like Snapchat, you need to dig deep into the features it provides. Let us have a glance at its features so that you could know which ones do you want in your app to make it a big success story.


Snaps are the photos and videos shared by people through the app. Once the snaps are viewed, they get automatically deleted from the chat window of both, the sender and the receiver. Snapchat offers a plethora of fun tools that are used to edit photos and videos, making them even more pleasing.


Snapchat is extremely famous for its lenses. Known as one of the characteristic features of Snapchat, users rejoice while using these lenses. The lenses tend to add exclusive visual effects to the snaps, making them enticing and enjoyable at the same time.

Adding friends

To share snaps, you got to add friends to your Snapchat account. The user may search their friends on Snapchat through their listed phone number or user tags. But what makes it more interesting is adding friends via snapcode present at the user’s profile and according to their location.


Snapchat is the portent of the trend of adding stories. It was Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp who followed the trend later. The story is a snap or a video that can be viewed by the friends added to your Snapchat account. It gets deleted after 24 hours.


The feature “discover” is what is unique to Snapchat. The Discover tab offers you a collection of several stories from the editorial teams of channels. You may also see paid ads by different people and companies in the discover section too.


Stickers are yet another intriguing way of communicating with your friends. As an alternative to typing – you send a sticker that portrays what you want to talk about. Life made easy, no? This feature is adored by the users and is now existing in almost every social networking website.

Video/Audio calls

A social networking application is incomplete without the trait of video and audio calls. In the same way, Snapchat allows you to enjoy hours of never-ending high-quality video and audio calls.

How Snapchat Makes Money?

Thus, to produce profits, Snapchat exercises:

Promotional Snap Ads

Snapchat shows users 10-second sponsoring videos. Users can swipe up and open more content, such as an extended video, app install, or blog post.

Exclusive GeoFilters

Contingent on the geolocation, users can open fun augmented reality filters that remain available for 30 days. The app charges businesses $5 for coverage of 20,000 square feet.

Sponsored Lenses

This monetization approach is similar to GeoFilters. Businesses promote through their own customized lenses that act in particular locations. In this manner, they can promote their products, services, events & the brand itself. This ad type is in style among large companies.


An association with KFC. When visiting KFC, app users resuscitate access to the Colonel Sanders lens filter, which shots users into the silver-maned colonel himself.

The “Discover” Piece

The app places the promotion content in the Discover section. The Snapchat live story prices $0.15 for each view. At present, the app is affiliating with around 20 big-tag publishers, such as CNN, People, and Cosmopolitan.

Sports Partnerships

The app is affiliating with sports organizations to endorse presence at sports events. By using this approach, the app is connecting with Adidas and Nike so that they can promote their products to sports enthusiasts. The app charges about $400k to $500k for complete revelation to the company’s products, services, loyalties, and much more.

In-app Purchases

This is another attraction. The app consumers can buy extra features such as Re-play to a feed such as an image or a video that the user has previously viewed.

Premium Access

The app users can purchase premium access to the latest app features and come into contact with new lenses.

At this point you are mindful of Snapchat’s monetization policies, next, find out the app’s essential feature conventional to make an app like Snapchat.

The Snapchat App Core Functionality

Snapchat was just a messaging app a few years ago, with the main feature of disappearing communications in 10 seconds. Nonetheless, over time, it has inserted massive features that offer additional immersive contact with the app. Therefore, Snapchat progressively advanced into a mix of secluded messaging and public content, as well as brand networks, video-distribution, and live happenings. Furthermore, Snapchat extended its resources and converted it into a multi-entertaining app, altering it from a messaging stage into a media titan.

According to Bloomberg, there are over 10 billion video views daily. The app offers “Memories” to save Snaps and Stories. Users can make brand-new Stories from Snaps they’ve seized, or syndicate various Stories into an added protracted story.

Apart from “Memories”, there are other features for instance new photo and video filters, the competence to augment emoji stickers to videos, and variations in chat. Snapchat social media app functionality includes features that can be used for two objectives:

  • Message exchange
  • Public content

What Is Message Exchange?

Snapchat has complemented additional value to such a simple thing as conversation, providing it with customary features. Users can create interactive chats called “snaps.” These snaps can contain a photo or short video; they can be modified with effects and filters, emojis, text mottos, and illustrations. In the Chat 2.0 fresh update, you can direct audio transcripts, style video, and audio calls. Snaps can be rapt privately to particular contacts, or can be set as a semi-public “Story.” These individually posted messages can be self-destructed robotically after a few instants. Similarly, the app lets location sharing. When the user starts inputting an address into chat, it shows a card that connects to the Google or Apple Maps app. Self-destructing messages are a custom aspect of Snapchat and one of the things that made it so trendy among youngsters.

Similarly, the app lets location sharing. When the user starts inputting an address into chat, it shows a card that connects to the Google or Apple Maps app. Self-destructing messages are a custom aspect of Snapchat and one of the things that made it so trendy among youngsters.

But Then How Does It Function?

  • As soon as the user hurls a message, it’s uploaded to the server.
  • You get a push notification showing that the temporary snap is downloaded to a temporary location on your phone.
  • Once you open the snap, the app will delete the temporary location on your phone.
  • This alerts the server and the temporary message gets deleted altogether.
  • Furthermore, the app deletes the message if not viewed within 30 days.

Let’s move to other interesting aspects


Stickers are now a foreseeable part of modern-day messages. Snapchat encompasses 200 stickers assembled into its app. You can use a custom design sticker or use a ready-made blend that is economical.

Location sharing

By operating this feature, Snapchat users can disclose their location with friends or family. Their location will surface on Snap Map. App users can also select who can see their location or update it simply when they have the Snapchat app open.

Adding friends

It is a vital role of a social media app. In addition to the standard approaches of adding friends thru usernames and mobile contacts, Snapchat offers a few smart features, these are:


Black dots that mantle the Snapchat Ghostface Chilla logo is a tailored QR code. A different user can scan it via the Snapchat camera, and he promptly starts following you. At this time, a recognition system is being used, and a system for the production of such codes.

Snapchat code

Insert Nearby function. This function usages your locale to scan other users in your propinquity who too have Add Nearby accessible. The app directs the devices systematizes to the server, the server in its turn links the geolocations of gadgets with the Add Nearby screen unbolted.

Video And Audio Calls

In the modernized form of the chat, app users can onset talking or video conversation instantaneously with a single tap. If the receiver isn’t operational, you can shoot an audio note. This element turns Snapchat into a phone substitute and transports it adjacent to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.


This feature is termed “GeoFilters” and is an exclusive graphic overlay that is obtainable when the user is within a precise geographical site, such as a metropolitan, event, or depot. The developers use geocoding to let your users point their position on the images. Geocoding is a computational process that converts the geographic coordinates to a description of a location, usually the name of a dwelling. Then the tag of the area is overlaid on the image in a prototype.

Lenses Or Filters

The “Lens” is one of the most exhilarating features of Snapchat. It allows users to add real-time special effects and modify video images by using face recognition aptitude. This feature became conceivable when Snapchat attained the startup Looksery. The startup fixes a facial adjustment and lets users simulate their facade for a picture or video conversation in real-time on cellular phones.

Here Is How It Works

  • Active Shape Model is used to detect a user’s face by marking their facial edges.
  • Power-driven by a machine learning process, the app produces the regular face and allies it with the image planned.
  • At that time, the app system modifies errors to make the filter fit the user’s face by evaluating the pixel statistics around the borders of the face.
  • These points are used by the app to mesh and adjust a 3D mask that is scalable and easy to shift on the face.
  • This filter is able to change the appearance on the face of the user and you can add accessories, set animations, and much more – as the filter is regularly updated.

Stories & Discover

Stories let users to transmit snapshot and video content to friends; each story goes on for 24 hours. It denotes unrestricted content and equips users with abilities in a similar mode as any other social network does. Far ahead this feature was extended to “Live Stories”, for the Snapchatters who are at a similar event to contribute Snaps along with the same Story.

The “Discover” selection delivers a fresh way to open up Stories from different journalistic lineups. It covers sponsored short- appearance content from key originators, like CNN, BuzzFeed, Mashable, People, and the list goes on. Each edition is reinvigorated after 24 hours, as the Snapchat squad believes, “what’s news today is history tomorrow.”

Tech Stack For Building The Snapchat-like App

Underneath you will discover what software Snapchat roles. Take into account the following technologies to produce an app like Snapchat with your development team.

Snapchat Tech Stack

Building an app like Snapchat is like creating a vast machine with numerous features, and will take somewhere around 12-months to be ready and deployed. And, yes, the price will be high as well. Below you’ll find the features listed along with an aggregated development cost.

FeaturesHourly Time EstimationCosts Involved
Self-destructing messaging30-40 hours$1,500 – $2,000
RegistrationUp to 125 hoursUp to $6,250
Push notifications40 hours$2,000
Recognition algorithms and QR code recognition algorithms developmentFrom 2 hours (depending on complexity)From $100
Geolocation32 hours$1,600
Uploading pictures and videos76-320 hours$3,800 – 16,000
Video and photo customizing68 hours$3,400
Audio and video calls180-220 hours$9,000 – 11,000

Our Recommendation

Launching apps identical to Snapchat as MVP is what we will suggest. The MVP of a Snapchat-like app will contain only the vital functions as registering, sharing media options, user profile, and text messages.

However, everything totally revolves around what the customer is looking for. If you want more complex features – development time and cost can increase or decrease based on all the requirements that you may have.

For an MVP, find below you will find the table that includes: features, description & estimated timeframe:

FeaturesDescriptionHourly Estimation
Registration/ login featureEmail

Phone number

Social network
Around 10 to 16 hours
User profileProfile picture


Contact details



Phone number
From 60+ hours
Posting User can post Images & Videos

Users can apply

Editing tools




Up to 320 hours:

applying filters 120+ hours

creating custom filters 120+ hours

cropping and rotating photos 80+ hours
Embedded messengerEnable users to exchange messagesUp to 40 hours

The Bottom Line

We already know that Snapchat is one big media giant, and also offers a lot of perks and benefits to its users. The key attractions are many and the tools and features attract the user infinitely. However, the most notable of its features are being powered by a machine learning algorithm, and yes AI is also included to enhance the face filters.

Developing something like Snapchat isn’t impossible – but it will need clear project requirements and a team to oversee that all the said features are included. The monetization feature is another attractive feature that Snapchat has – and you can build your application to ensure that all such features are included, and your app is also profitable like it.

As you already know that the platform has numerous integrations and classy features – thus, it is tough to give a precise project approximation. Nevertheless, you should take notice of the following – chat app development cost is influenced by three main aspects that have an impact on the overall budget and project length. And, these are:

Project Scopes

It’s not necessary that your app should have all of the features offered in the Snapchat application. You can select some of the finest features and then we will estimate the cost and timing.

Project Timeframe

The work scope can be easily carried out in different phases and can be completed in a very quick manner. But this will include a skilled team of developers working on various aspects and platforms.


We have a preference for the Time Material model for smaller projects and Dedicated Team models for long-term projects.

Connect With Mobile App Development Experts

Thus, feel free to contact us with any queries on how to develop a Snapchat-like application, and our experts at Clustox will help you to estimate and understand all of your project objectives.

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