“Free” is king of the mobile app stores—hence the rise of in-app purchases—but even paid apps usually only cost a few dollars. There have been some significant outliers, though. Let’s look at apps that break the bank.
What Qualifies as “Expensive”?
Like our list of “Most Expensive Phones of All Time,” we need to set some parameters for what we mean by “expensive.” When it comes to apps, there are two types of “expensive.”
The first is realisticly expensive. These are pricey apps that have legitimate reasons for being pricey. The second is gimmicky expensive, which consists of apps that are expensive just for the sake of being expensive. The infamous “I Am Rich” app is a perfect example.
Note: For this list, I’ll be mixing in apps from both of these categories. I’ll also be focusing solely on apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. I’m also mostly looking at the up-front price, but I included one for in-app purchases.
Zollinger’s Surgery Atlas: $119
One of the most common categories to find expensive apps is apps for the medical community. These are apps specifically designed for surgeons, doctors, dentists, med students, and other healthcare professionals.
Zollinger’s Atlas of Surgical Operations (iPhone, Android) is one such app. It provides reference materials for a wide range of surgical procedures. The app costs $119, but it contains a wealth of information that is very valuable to have with you if you’re the target audience.
Classic TC with WordPower: $299
Classic TC (TouchChat) is an iPhone app for people who have difficulty speaking. Words are displayed on easy-to-read buttons and the user can tap them to have the words read aloud with the built-in voice synthesizer.
Custom buttons and voice recordings can also be added. Along with the word buttons, there’s also a phonic keyboard. For people with Autism, ALS, Down Syndrome, apraxia, stroke, or other conditions, the $299 may be worth it.
Most Expensive Widget: $399
Let’s dip into the gimmicky category. There is an Android app simply named “Most Expensive Widget.” What does it do? Absolutely nothing.
As the name implies, this is just a widget you can put on the home screen. It’s a $399 status symbol to show off to your friends. That’s it.
Okay, now we’re really getting up there in price. CyberTuner is a professional piano tuning app for the iPhone. It was programmed by a Registered Piano Technician with “years of concert tuning and prep experience as well as ‘in the trenches’ home tunings and repairs.”
$1,000 seems excessive for a piano tuning app, but it seems to be worth it. At the time of writing, the app has a 4.8/5-star review with nearly 50 ratings. People are paying for it and liking it.
app.Cash—not to be confused with Cash App—is an iPhone/iPad app designed to take the place of physical cash registers. Coming in at a whopping $1,000, it’s still supposedly more affordable than traditional register systems.
This app is a great example of some of the very specialized expensive apps in the app stores. The average person has no need for something like this, but for a very specific person, it may be a life-changer.
Basecamp 3: $99 per month
Let’s finish things off with an app that will quickly get very expensive. Basecamp is a project management service aimed at keeping teams organized. It’s very highly regarded, but can be pricey if your team is small.
Basecamp costs $99 per month, but the catch is that’s a flat rate. So if you have a large team, $99 per month may be totally worth it. However, for a solo user or small group, $100 per month adds up fast and it just keeps getting bigger over time.
The world of expensive apps is very interesting. It shows how smartphones have become incredibly useful tools for certain industries and for people with very specific needs. There’s also a lot of silliness around spending a couple of hundred bucks on a pointless app. Your phone is already expensive, so what’s a little more, right?