We Compared Two of the Biggest Online Dating Apps Out There
With so many sites and apps out there focused on dating, it can be tough at times when deciding how to approach the concept. The pure proliferation of these digital dating options might even have you wishing for the return of analog ones, like IRL speed dating or personals in the local newspaper. But lest you get discouraged before even taking a shot at all, you might want to consider what are perhaps two of the top apps in the online dating game at the moment: Tinder and Bumble.
Though Tinder was launched in September 2012, a little over two years before Bumble’s December 2014 launch, its younger app sibling has covered a fair amount of cultural ground in recent years. While Tinder’s raw user numbers dwarf Bumble’s — in no small part because of its success outside the United States, making it a truly global app — Bumble’s reported 22 million users still make it a major player in the space.
One noteworthy aspect linking the two apps is the fact that Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe, is an ex-Tinder employee who left the company determined to start her own app after her negative experiences at Tinder. But perhaps the most salient reason to compare the two is the fact that Bumble has been billed as an alternative to Tinder since it first launched — specifically, it’s often referred to as “feminist Tinder.”
That’s because the basic mechanics of the two apps are essentially identical — you swipe through a seemingly endless stack other users’ profile photos, right to indicate your interest in them and left to indicate your non-interest, then when two users have both swiped right on each other, they’re notified and given the opportunity to chat with one another. Now, here’s where we see one simple (but impactful) difference: On Bumble, straight men can’t message women until the woman has initiated the conversation.
So what does that mean for you? Will you have a better success rate on Tinder or Bumble? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Read on to discover which app offers the better online dating experience for you.
1. Tinder’s Features vs. Bumble’s Features
When Tinder launched in 2012, its popularity was in large part the product of three noteworthy features:
- A geolocating feature that showed you only users within a certain radius of you
- The ability to swipe on other users’ profile pictures to indicate your interest
- The fact that unless you “matched,” you couldn’t message anyone
While the geolocating feature was similar to the one that had driven the incredible success of Grindr, the hookup app for gay men launched in 2009, Tinder was the first time it had been used in a dating app for people who identified as straight.
That aspect, along with the other two aforementioned features, help shift online dating from a tedious, reading-heavy process into something that felt more like a fun, instantly responsive mobile game.
The app was addictive, and its success led to established competitors like OkCupid designing Tinder-like versions of their own site, as well as the creation of brand new apps with similar layouts. The most prominent of those has been Bumble, which replicates the profile pic-swiping mechanism and the geolocation-based aspect as well.
Since their creation, however, both apps have added myriad new features and options in an attempt to improve to keep things fresh and exciting.
You can now link your Tinder and Bumble profile with your Instagram and Spotify accounts, for instance, allowing people to see what your photos are like outside of the ones you’ve uploaded, as well as your taste in music.
Bumble also allows users to undo an accidental left-swipe up to three times per day; for Tinder, this is an included feature when you upgrade to Tinder Plus.
2. Tinder’s Sign-Up Process vs. Bumble’s Sign-Up Process
Unlike the lengthy sign-up processes of online dating sites in the early 2000s, well-run apps in today’s day and age have A/B tested the sign-up process into oblivion, and have largely concluded that the faster, the better. As a result, signing up for either app is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t involve filling out any forms or conveying much personal data or preferences. In order to discourage fake accounts, both Bumble and Tinder ask you to sign up using some means of identity-verification — your phone number, in Tinder’s case, or your phone number or Facebook in Bumble’s.
After creating the account, you’re prompted to build your profile. Bumble allows you to “fill from Facebook” or add photos manually, asks you what gender you are (you can pick from man, woman, or a lengthy list of other options, including trans identities, gender-fluid, gender-non-conforming, gender-questioning, etc.), and which gender you’d like to have your profile shown to. Then you’re prompted to add your birthday and your first name. After adding a recovery email and a password, you’re off to the races.
Tinder’s process is slightly different — after adding your name, your birthday and identifying yourself as either man or woman, you’re given the opportunity to add the school you’re attending before uploading any pictures. Swiping starts right after that.
Both apps allow for more details to be filled in later on, but you can basically jump into using the apps to their full capacity within a minute or two at most.
3. Tinder’s Pricing vs. Bumble’s Pricing
Since their respective launches, both apps have been free to download and use, meaning you can match and exchange messages with real people without ever paying a dime. However, as with many ostensibly free apps — dating or otherwise — Tinder and Bumble monetize their platforms by charging for certain bonus features and restricting what free users can do in some cases.
Tinder, in particular, has clamped down on the free usage of its app in recent years by limiting the number of swipes users can make in a single day, allowing for 100 right swipes per day. That might sound like a lot to the uninitiated, but depending on how picky you are and how quickly you go through profiles, you could easily burn through them in just 15 minutes or so.
Tinder Plus costs $19.99 per month for users 30 and up, and $9.99 for those 18-29. It offers unlimited right swipes, the ability to undo accidental left-swipes, five super-likes per day, and one free “boost” per month that pushes your profile to the front of the stack when users are swiping in your area.
Tinder Gold costs an additional $4.99 on top of the price of Tinder Plus, giving you the ability to see which users have already swiped right on you, and sends you curated lists of “top” picks it thinks you’ll like.
Bumble Boost, meanwhile, costs $9.99 per month and offers users the ability to extend the shelf-life of matches past the 24-hour cutoff point, as well as the ability to see who has liked you, among other features.
4. Tinder’s User Base vs. Bumble’s User Base
Tinder’s approach when discussing its user base has been to publicize the number of swipes and matches occurring, rather than the raw number of daily, monthly or total users. Its site currently boasts that its users generate 2 billion “views” per day, 1 million dates per week, and over 30 billion total matches since it was founded across over 190 countries. With numbers like that, it might be easier to just list the number of singles who aren’t on Tinder.
However, that crowd of users doesn’t necessarily work in your favor. Since the concept of Tinder is built around you deciding what you like rather than an algorithm, the majority of people you swipe through will be people you’re probably not that interested in. If you live in a major metropolitan area and are really picky, you might just have to devote serious amounts of time to swiping through them all.
Bumble, meanwhile, benefits from having a slightly less popular app that’s geared to a specific population. Based on reading reviews, the stereotypical Bumble user is college educated, attractive and polite, so while you’ve got fewer options to choose from, you’re also probably spending less time left-swiping people you’re not interested in.
5. Tinder’s Aesthetics/Interface vs. Bumble’s Aesthetics/Interface
Tinder and Bumble both make use of an interface that’s primarily composed of two modes: the image-focused swiping mode and the text-like chat mode where you interact with your matches. Since swiping mode is so intuitive (left for dislike, right for like on both apps) and the chat mode so closely resembles standard text-messaging functionality for iOS and Android phones, the interface is easy to adapt to.
However, there are a few differences in terms of how the swiping works between the two apps: On Tinder, you can also swipe right, left and super-like a person’s profile using buttons at the bottom of your screen, whereas Bumble exclusively allows for swiping the normal way. Swiping upwards is also different on both apps, as on Tinder it’s for a super-like, whereas on Bumble it’s to see more of a person’s pictures. As well, to undo a left-swipe, on Tinder requires the use of a at the bottom of the screen; on Bumble, you simply shake your phone.
Regardless, both apps are well-designed — easy to use and regularly updated to keep up with the times. Compared to the rest of the online dating game, Tinder and Bumble are the cream of the crop …at least for the time being.
6. Best for Hooking Up: Tinder or Bumble?
When looking for hookups, Tinder’s big user base and ease-of-use approach works in your favor. Not only is it jam-packed with an incredible number of people who appear to be looking for the dopamine rush from a “match” notification, the app’s focus on surface-level interactions is distinctly hookup-friendly.
You swipe on people based on how they look, not who they are, and matches can start chatting immediately in every case. That mentality syncs up nicely with what people might be looking for in a no-strings-attached hookup, which is a base physical attraction with no delays.
In this arena, Bumble’s unique conversational mechanism — which insists the woman send the first message, deleting matches that don’t speak within 24 hours — is something that often means matches go nowhere without any actual conversation. On the flip side, of course, many Tinder matches go nowhere despite conversation, so you might not be losing much.
As well, Bumble’s reputation for being a bit classier, stocked with people with high-minded and forward-thinking ideals, might actually work against its success as a hookup option. Sure, modern progressivism tends to be very sex-positive, but the people you find on the app might be choosier, more interested in relationships or even people you don’t want to have a simple hookup with.
At the end of the day, Tinder’s vaguely seedy reputation is actually an asset when it comes to hookups. Since there’s a lower expectation of quality matches, people don’t go there expecting the same level of courtship. That means you’re more likely to run into a fellow hookup-seeker on Tinder than on Bumble, even if it also means you’re also more likely to swipe through a lot of people you’re not interested in (and who aren’t interested in you).
7. Best for Relationships: Tinder or Bumble?
When it comes to finding relationships, however, you’re confronted with the same issue that people have been dealing with since the advent of online dating — is it better to meet a large quantity of potential partners, or a smaller, more curated number?
If you take the former approach, you’re likely to slog through a lot of people with whom you’re totally incompatible. That could mean hours and hours and hours of swiping (over months or even years), or spending time and money going on some seriously bad dates.
If you take the latter approach because you’re holding out for a soulmate, it’s hard to argue that either app is necessarily better. Now, if you’re looking for someone you could realistically date and introduce to your friends and family, Bumble is probably the better bet.
For starters, its gender numbers are much closer to being equal than Tinder’s — at least, according to the available data — with Bumble boasting 46 percent women. Tinder keeps their gender breakdown under wraps, but studies have put it at closer to one-third women — meaning if you’re looking for a relationship with a woman, you’re dealing with less competition.
If you bring that sext-first, ask-questions-later mentality that you see from some guys on Tinder, you’re unlikely to have a high success rate on Bumble. But if you approach it with patience and a sense of respect for the people you right swipe on, you and Bumble could be a match made in heaven.
8. Best for Men: Tinder or Bumble?
If you’re a guy, you might be wondering, “OK, but which one is better for me?” Truth be told, you can’t really answer that question for all men. For starters, gay guys use both apps — but they’re less popular in the queer community than dating apps dedicated for gay men — so whether you’re looking for men, women, non-binary people or some combination of all of the above won’t necessarily impact which you prefer.
Second, whether you prefer to send the opening message or sit back and wait for the messages to roll in depends on what kind of guy you are. Depending on how comfortable you are in your masculinity, and how likely you think you are to get matches and messages without initiating, you might prefer Bumble.
On the flip side, if you’re all about crafting a killer opening line and you want to spend all of your free time swiping on people regardless of whether it’ll lead to a date, Tinder might be the app for you.
The tenor of a dating app can very much change over time, but at least right now, two options are so closely matched (pun intended) in so many ways, it’s hard to name a clear winner when it comes to the male experience. If you’re genuinely not sure which to try out, you could flip a coin — or download them both and give them a test-swipe.
9. Alternatives If You Don’t Like Bumble or Tinder
Neither Tinder nor Bumble sounding that good to you? That’s totally understandable. As popular as they’ve been in recent years, the swipe-first model isn’t for everyone. If you’re one of those people who still likes finding love — or a lover — the old fashioned way, by filling out a detailed profile, keep reading for some good alternatives.
Looking for something a little classic in the face of the Johnnies-come-lately of the online dating game? Match.com is the dating site for you. They’ve been around for about two decades, but rather than being some dusty relic of dating days gone by, they’ve remained at the top with state-of-the-art features and a beautiful and easy-to-use interface. You really can’t go wrong with Match.
That being said, maybe you’re looking for something a little more zippy. Zoosk might be just that. While they don’t have Match’s pedigree, Zoosk has established a name for themselves with great usability and a large and date-able database. There’s a reason they received the highest rating in AskMen’s dating site reviews — go check them out and see why.
Unless you were looking for something that was a little less relationship and a little more… sex? If so, don’t be ashamed. Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app, but these days it’s full of people looking for love, too. XMatch, however, has retained its sex-first, ask-questions-later mentality: Its user base is there for short-term arrangements, not long-term engagements.
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