What Is Backend in Mobile App Development and How to Create a Custom One

TopDevs Inc.
6 min readMay 25, 2022


Without a functional server part, the application simply cannot work. It is at this level that communication with the server takes place, obtaining information from the database and solving problems that consume large computing resources.

So what is included in the concept of the backend of a mobile application and how it works. How exactly to create it and should you choose it instead of platforms with ready-made solutions? You will learn all this from our article.

What Is the Backend for a Mobile App?

The backend part of a mobile application is the center of the entire application, where data is processed, stored, and secured. The entire functionality of the product depends on the server part, which is not visible to the average user.

The backend part of the mobile application is responsible for the following aspects:

  • updating content in the application;
  • storage and processing of data without reference to the capabilities of the smartphone itself;
  • authorization and authentication processes;
  • possibility of data synchronization;
  • managing the entire business logic of the application;
  • performing complex data processing operations.

The mobile backend part interacts with the application while being and operating on a remote server. An important difference between the backend and the frontend is the lack of a graphical interface since its purpose is to interact between the machine and the server.

The backend server of a mobile application is capable of performing remote tasks of any complexity and data processing. All this improves the UI. In this case, the backend remains on remote servers, and developers can access it through the API.

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Frontend VS Backend Development

To understand the difference between front-end and backend development, you must first define these concepts.

A frontend is a front-end that requires the use of JavaScript, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). All this is assembled into a single scheme-solution for creating an external interface, for interacting with the user. This includes all visible parts of the interface, such as menus, buttons, links, and so on.

In turn, the backend is responsible for passing all the data to the external interface. Among the technologies that help in this database are, for example, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, NoSQL and PostgreSQL. As well as various languages ​​and frameworks: Java (framework Spring), Python (framework Flask and Django) and PHP (frameworks Laravel and Symphony).

Thus, the main difference is that the frontend is responsible for the interaction between the application and the user, and the backend is responsible for the interaction between the server and the application.

What Functions Does Mobile Backend Provide?

First of all, remember that a backend is required for all applications that work with user data.

Backend copes with the following tasks:

  • collection and storage of information about users;
  • displaying personalized and/or dynamic data as a consequence of user behavior;
  • using the authentication function;
  • providing access to the application from multiple devices;
  • consumption of content by users through the application.

Even if you use at least one of these functions, you will need to use the backend.

Does Your Mobile App Need a Backend?

But despite the importance of the backend part, not all applications need it. For example, if the application is running locally, then it does not need to use a client-server relationship and the concept of a backend is irrelevant.

Examples of applications where a backend is not needed:

  • Calculator (App Store, Google Play). The Calculator app allows users to perform basic mathematical operations. They can be easily calculated on a smartphone, there is no need to use any backend.
  • Voice recorder app: Here you record your voice using your smartphone’s microphone. All data is stored in the local storage on your smartphone.
  • The camera mobile app is built locally on your device. The server part is used only if the photo is stored in the cloud storage.
  • Single-player built-in games do not require a server side, their functionality available without them.

That is, everything comes from the features of the application you want to develop.

Read also: How We Developed Custom Video Streaming Service

Example of Apps With Backend

As we said above, almost all applications require an app backend. Consider some of the most popular services that use the backend.

  • Amazon: viewing multiple products at the same time, adding/deleting/updating products, arranging lists by filters — all this is done using the backend.
  • Netflix: downloading and managing available videos is done through the connection with the server. Another backend example that is also regulated by the servers is the account.

Uber: in addition to fleet management, the server also provides geofencing and Uber is a digital taxi service app. Uber requires a server application to manage available Uber vehicles near your location. It also requires a server application to host or cancel a trip.

Types of Backend and How to Choose the Best One for Your Project

Depending on the approaches, there are three main types of back-end solutions. Let’s consider each of them.

Third party server solutions or solution as a service (SaaS)

Simply put, you connect your application’s interface design to a ready-made platform with a built-in server solution.

Custom server solution

We always recommend using this approach, as this is the only way you can achieve your business goals.

MBaaS or mobile backend as a service

This type of solution allows you to use previously developed components with the backend to take advantage of all these features.

How Does a Custom Backend App Development Process Look Like?

The focus of the mobile app backend is on databases, internal logic, and APIs and servers. Since the backend of an application is a combination of servers, databases, and the application itself, everything starts with code. It will interact with the databases where information is stored and retrieve it if necessary. The code is written while using the framework, and the database is compiled at the same time.

The tech stack of the project will be selected based on your budget and the features that you want to see in your application.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Mobile App Backend?

The cost of app development has a complex composition: the geography of the website development company, the level of complexity of the application, the qualifications of the developer, and so on.

The average development cost looks something like this:

  • a simple application — from 40,000 to 60,000 dollars.
  • an application of medium complexity — from 60,000 to 150,000 dollars.
  • a complex application — from 300,000 USD.

Traditionally, many companies resort to the help of outsourcing companies that offer a turnkey project with certain guarantees and post-release support as an additional part of the app development cost.

A Quick Summary

So, not all applications critically require a backend, but if you want to support users, then you cannot do without the server part. Despite all the variety of solutions today, only a custom solution will allow you to achieve your business goals.

The most important detail in developing a back-end application is the choice of outsourcing company and backend technology stack. Only in this case, budgets and deadlines will be predictable, and you will receive high-quality product development.



TopDevs Inc.

Web & mobile app development company that creates digital solutions for startups & businesses (native iOS, Android apps, outstaffing, outsourcing) @ topdevs.org