Does Your Mobile Application Need a Backend?

Do all apps require a backend? Of course not. But does your app need it?  Probably. Because most apps today run with a backend.
Apps like notepad, invoicing or simple calculator apps are free-standing and offline. They store data on local memory, thus, need no cloud storage. But when building a comprehensive solution that keeps users’ data. Then, having a cloud-based backend is not optional but a necessity. Get more insights about smartphone app development and apps that need a backend from this checklist.
  • Will your app receive user information?
  • Will you provide a backup for data provided by users?
  • Do you need to provide cloud storage and synchronize user data on different devices?
  • Will your app personalize contents and data based on user behavior?
  • Will users access the content created through your app?
You’ve saved yourself extra money and time if your answer is no. Develop your app’s front end and roll it out. But if you answered yes to any of these questions, you need a well-functioning platform to host your software. But what are backends?

What Is A Backend? 

The backend is a server-side part of an application that runs the app functionality. It performs tasks remotely by ensuring an app can process, store, retrieve and secure data for users. Using APIs, it also communicates with the mobile app’s front end to serve user requests and facilitate a better experience. The backend is its powerful engine if a mobile app is a car. Amongst other things, the backend performs these functionalities.
  • It processes, stores, and updates data on the server, independent of mobile device storage capabilities.
  • It helps sync user data so they can access it on different devices.
  • It supervises an app’s business logic.
  • It regulates access to data through authorization and validation.

How Do Backends Function With A Frontend? 

Both the backend and Frontend work hand-in-hand to facilitate functional software. For example, suppose you want to buy a laptop on eBay. After clicking on buy and choosing your preferred payment option, you get a form asking for your bank credentials, including your credit card details. This simple process involved a series of communication between the front end and back end. While the Frontend communicates your request to the backend via API, the backend answers the request by providing a list of payment options.  But without a front-end GUI, it won’t be available for visual display. Backends do the groundwork. The front end provides the visual layer, while API is the communication channel between both.

What Are Your Backend Options? 

Back ends for mobile applications include
  • SaaS: Solution as a Service
  • MBaaS: Mobile Backend as a Service
  • Custom Backend Development
Here, your mobile app requirements and cost constraints are paramount. However, each mobile backend solution has its peculiarities, strengths, and weaknesses. Let’s examine them.
  1. Solution as a Service (SaaS)
These are third-party services that provide backend solutions. All you have to do is plug your app into their backend. Then, get it ready for launch. However, it’s only workable if your solution already exists and has a pre-made backend framework. Compared to other options, third-party mobile app backends are relatively cheaper. You cut costs on mobile app development. Instead of scratch coding, you pay a subscription fee that recurs every month. For instance, a headless Content Management System (CMS) like Contentful can help you run a blogging app. First, it stores your texts, pictures, and videos. Then, using API retrieves stored data to be displayed by the front end of your app. Similarly, a headless e-commerce solution like Shopify’s stores manages and retrieves customer data, inventories, sales, and content. Then, it retrieves the data for the frontend display.


  • It doesn’t require any stress with backend development and integration.
  • Thus, hiring a backend development team isn’t essential, which helps you cut costs.
  • It saves development time and helps you launch your product earlier.


  • It offers little room for flexibility.
  • It can’t handle large and complex backend requirements.
  • Its scalability potential is also limited.
  1. Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)
Mobile Backend services provide preexisting tools that let you write custom backend codes. It is a basic structure you can mold to your taste using its vast library and feature set. Moreover, MBaaS are more flexible and scalable than SaaS. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that most top companies use it for their backend services. MBaaS is also developed to utilize your backend functions completely.  You don’t have to scratch code but build on preexisting structures. While it requires a subscription fee, it’s only charged based on your app’s usage rate and traffic volume. Well-known apps using MBaaS services include
  • Amazon Web Service (AWS) is the most widely used MBaaS platform. Well-known apps and platforms using AWS include
    • Expedia
    • LinkedIn
    • Airbnb
    • NASA
    • Facebook
amongst many other platforms
  • Firebase: This is a Google-owned MBaaS platform that provides backend services. Top apps using Firebase include
    • Instacart
    • Alibaba
    • Accenture
    • The New York Times.


  • It provides ample room for scalability compared to SaaS.
  • You only have to pay for used resources. Thus, cutting costs.
  • It provides countless features and capabilities that developers can incorporate into their apps.
  • Compared to SaaS, it’s more customizable to personal taste.


  • Your app’s smooth running depends on an external platform.
  • As you attract more users and traffic in the long run, overhead increases.
  1. Custom Backend Development 
If you fancy absolute independence, limitless flexibility, and scalability, go for custom development. You build your backend from scratch using a team of expert developers. Custom backend development comes with lots of options. For example, it lets you choose the best security protocols to safeguard your app. You can also limit API connection while building high-performance software that solves different tasks. With many advantages, it’s easy to discern why database-heavy platforms like Netflix use custom development. It has downsides too. First, you’d have to hire enough talent, which incurs more overhead. You may also have a hard time procuring specialized developers and mobile app development tools. Plus, your app takes more time to develop.


  • It provides the most options for flexibility. You can modify your app’s backend as you see fit.
  • Your app is independent, giving you absolute control over its performance and security.
  • It can also adjust to enough scalability demands.


  • It incurs a high cost.
  • It may delay your app’s time to market.
  • It might require lots of stress to get the right talents.


For obvious reasons, many developers go for Mobile Backend as a Service,  specifically AWS. This is because it offers the best value at a minimal cost. While not as expensive as custom mobile app development,  it provides more flexibility than SaaS. Many other startups mix the three backends for different use cases. Since custom development and MBaaS require developers, the onus rests on getting the right talents. Outsourcing to mobile app development companies like Emphasoft can bring you such a needed expert. We procure enough hands working on your custom backend to get it into the market faster. In the process,  you save stress and launch your app early. Or even better, you can get our all-in-one package, including consultations, the app’s frontend design, backend development, and after-delivery maintenance. With this, Emphasoft saves you extra time, money, and stress. Then, you’d only pitch your idea, give the order to start development, monitor project progress, and get your final product once done.

Similar Posts:

Leave a Comment