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How much does it cost to make a photo-sharing app like Instagram?

In today’s digital era, social networking applications have become an integral part of our lives. Apps like Amazon, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram have become pre-requisite and have witnessed tremendous success in their respective sections.

It is quite surprising to note that Instagram received a tremendous response from worldwide audiences since its launch in October 2010. Instagram has seen a meteoric rise to over 1 billion active users, making it one of the top 4 social networks worldwide.

Such a stunning success and ever-growing demand for secured, personalized & engaging social media products have made many entrepreneurs think of how to make an Instagram app of their own. If you are one of them, let’s look into the factors that affect the cost of an app like Instagram.

Digital products evolve over time, the same goes for Instagram. Instagram today has tons of advanced features that the Instagram team has developed and improved over time. So, in this article, we will try to determine the cost to build an app like Instagram based on the various basic features of the application.

Basic features of a photo-sharing app like Instagram


This is a common option for almost every B2C application. Instagram also gives at least two ways of authorization:

  1. Create a new account using a phone number or email
  2. Sign in with your existing social media account (Facebook)

In addition to these, there is always an option for the users to reset their lost password through phone, mail, or social account.

Profile editing

The feasibility of editing a profile should be the next must-have feature of your photo-sharing app. Users must have the option of adding, customizing and changing their profile information including but not limited to username, profile picture, bio, etc.

Real-time Messaging – One-on-one and group chat messages

It is important that a photo-sharing app like Instagram must facilitate the users with a real-time messaging option along with notifications. Push notifications are critical for a social networking app like Instagram as they notify about all incoming messages.

To prevent the server from getting overloaded with notifications generated because of to and fro messages, required server-side strategies must be implemented to reduce the load.

The notification facility is implemented by using Firebase cloud messaging(FCM) and Apple Push Notification service (APNs) services.

Uploading photos & videos

For a photo-sharing app like Instagram, it is the most important part. Enable users to easily share their photos and videos to the feed and other places. Users can either take photos from within the app or upload the existing ones.

When it comes to uploading photos & videos, managing the backend with relevant strategies to optimize, store and serve images to the client-side is critical.

Photo editing capabilities

Photo editing capability is another essential feature of a photo-sharing app. For an app like Instagram or any other photo-sharing app, it is a must to provide users with the option to edit photos.


Using this feature, users will be able to share and tag a location on their post. This further allows the users to show where the photo or video was taken, further allowing them to promote a location.

The technology stack used for Instagram

iOS application

  • Language — Swift
  • Networking — Alamofire

Android application

  • Language — Kotlin
  • Networking — OkHttp 3, Retrofit 2

Back-end development

  • Language — Node.js (JavaScript)
  • Framework — Express
  • Database — MySQL
  • Messaging —
  • API documentation — Swagger

Third-party services

  • Push notifications — FCM
  • Geolocation — Google Maps
  • Storage — Amazon S3
  • Emails — Elastic Email

Steps to develop an app like Instagram

Now that we know what all the features a basic photo-sharing app requires & the technology stack used, let’s look into the development process.

  1. App Design & prototyping
  2. Server-side development
  3. App Development

How much does it cost to make an app like Instagram?

To develop a photo-sharing app like Instagram, the cost would be in the range of $20,000 – $50,000. The breakdown is as follows:

  • App Design & prototyping – from $3000
  • Server-side development – from $7000
  • App Development (iOS & Android) – from $10000

The cost is completely dependent on the tech stack to be used, the resources to be deployed and the time duration.

If you need a simpler version, we can help you with that too. The basic MVP version of a photo-sharing app starts as low as $2500.

Abhijit Das
CEO & Co-Founder
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