Believe it or not, not too long ago, online dating was barely considered culturally acceptable. It was viewed as a wasteland of the truly lonely and desperate, only to be used as a last resort when all other options had failed.
(This is still true of the Craigslist dating section, which will forever remain a terrifying hellscape.)
But more and more people have come around; hell, they even make Valentine’s Day cards now that say “I’m so glad we both swiped right.” [R] Dating apps are the go-to method for meeting new people, and 59% of Americans agree (up from 44% in 2005). [R]
The most popular non-traditional relationship apps (“traditional” meaning sites like Match or eHarmony) are Tinder and Bumble. The question is: which one is better? Let’s compare their differences.
A Quick App Overview
Tinder is the granddaddy of dating apps. Tinder uses your location to send you profiles of people in your area who fit the criteria you’re looking for (specifically, age and gender).
The profile consists of a short “About Me” section and has space for five pictures; based on that information, you can either swipe left if you’re not interested, right if you are, and up if you want to “Super Like” them (which will tell the other person that you’re interested when they come across your profile).
If you and the other person swipe right, a little screen pops up informing you there’s a match (it’s a thrilling moment), and you can introduce yourself. From there, awwww yeah, you’re on the Flirt Train, next stop: Intimacy Station.*
*Results may vary.
Bumble works largely the same way, with one major difference: on Bumble, only the woman can make the first move, which gives women more say in the dating process. It’s why Bumble has been called “Feminist Tinder” [R] and why women say they feel safer on Bumble. [R]
“Only women can make the first move on Bumble”
Bumble recognized that many women aren’t used to making the first move, so they put a timer on it to add a sense of urgency: if a woman matches with someone but doesn’t message them, after 24 hours the match disappears.
Who Uses These Digital Dating Platforms?
Tinder has 1.5 million paid users (allowing for unlimited swiping) and roughly 50 million users overall, and the app is active in 196 countries. [R] Bumble has approximately 12.5 million total users and, for the time being, its userbase is only available in the U.S. and Canada. [R] So if you’re outside of these two countries, you’re out of luck.
What Are The Features?
The free versions of both these mobile dating apps are largely the same, but you can upgrade to their paid versions, Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost. Let’s see how they stack up by comparison.
|Tinder Plus||Bumble Boost|
|Cost||$9.99/month for users aged 18-29; $19.99/month for users 30 and over||$9.99/month (no age restrictions)|
|Undo Option?||Yes (only back to the previous profile)||Yes (up to 3 profiles back; each “Backtrack” restores after 3 hours)|
|Control Who You See?||Yes (you can filter your list based on how recently they used the app)||No|
|Control Who Sees You?||Yes (only people you’ve already liked can see your profile)||No|
|Search Anywhere?||Yes (“Passport” lets you search for matches in any location)||No|
|Show Who Already Liked You?||No||Yes|
There is a new version of Tinder (called “Tinder Gold”) currently being rolled out that will also allow you to see who’s already liked you, addressing Tinder Plus’s main shortcoming compared to Bumble Boost. [R]
Overall, Bumble Boost’s features are aimed at saving users more time, which is great if you have a busy schedule. But Tinder Plus seems to improve the quality of the user experience.
Winner: Tinder (although jacking up the price on older users is gross).
How Do These Apps Work?
Bumble presents its most popular users first, ranking the profiles according to how many people swipe right on them. [R] So if you get a lot of right swipes, you’re going to show up as a potential match to a greater number of people who only use Bumble for, say, 5-10 minutes at a time, which puts you in line to get even more matches.
If you’re one of those people, well, bully for you. But if you’re not, well…you’re kinda screwed. Unless someone is on the app long/frequently enough to get past the “VIP”-level users, it’s unlikely they’ll come across your profile.
Tinder’s algorithm is similar, but a little more nuanced. [R] In addition to scoring your profile based on the number of right-swipes you get, Tinder also takes into account the percentage of people who return your right-swipes and their ratings; whether you swipe right too often (or too infrequently); whether you send messages to your matches (and receive replies); and how often you use the app.
Again, the algorithms are fairly similar, but Bumble’s basically rests on whether or not a user is conventionally attractive.
Part of the selling point for both Tinder and Bumble is their ease of use: no filling out a long questionnaire or a lengthy bio, just sign up and start swiping. These algorithms are necessary to ensure users get a variety of options. But at least with Tinder, there are ways — however slight — to improve your chances of finding a match.
Winner: A slight edge to Tinder.
Major Drawbacks Between Apps
The main drawbacks of Tinder are the number of bots, the larger pool of potential matches (which means sifting through people you have ZERO interest in) and, if you’re a woman, the amount of creeps who use it. A woman can open the app to find 20 new matches and 20 new sexually explicit / shallow messages (or worse) on a daily basis.
This is one of the main reasons Tinder gets its reputation for being a hookup app for those looking for casual flings. Competition between Bumble can only encourage further improvements on the algorithm to help genuine singles looking for increased success in match rates.
Bumble’s Comfortability For Women
Some women note that they’re not used to initiating conversations, which means they’re less comfortable with reaching out on Bumble — even if they’re interested. [R] And men have complained that the deck is stacked against them; all women really have to go on is their profile picture and their bio, and since men can’t communicate first, they lose an opportunity to set themselves apart from the pack with a witty greeting…
Popular users on either app (women on Tinder or men on Bumble), are typically flooded with messages from matches, which can lead to something known as “overchoice.” [R] Overchoice means that the greater the number of options, the more difficult it is to make a decision; with these apps, that can prevent you from finding the right match.
Winner: Bumble — having to wait for a woman to message you is small potatoes compared to an inbox full of dick pics.
Overall Userbase Verdict
On paper, Bumble offers women more control over the quality of their experience. That said, blocking someone on Tinder isn’t exactly a labyrinthine process, and the odds of encountering inappropriate users is minimized if you take the time to look at each person’s profile before blindly swiping right. (Plus, women could also use Tinder to make the first move if they wanted.)
Ultimately, the question is simple: which is the better option? Based on the features, the wider variety of possible matches, and the ability to customize your experience, the answer is clear: Tinder.
However, the only way you are truly going to know which works best for you is to try them both out and deciding for yourself.
Resources & References
Still unsure which app best suits you? Then maybe these sources will help:
- Valentine Card Tinder I’m so glad we both swiped right by Amazon
- 5 facts about online dating – Pew Research Center by Aaron Smith
- Bumble dating app is essentially feminist Tinder, and here’s why you should download it – Bustle by Mehak Anwar
- Excellent talk by Tripp Advice on how to start a conversation on Tinder
- 10 interesting Bumble statistics and facts – DMR stats | gadgets by Craig Smith
- Introducing Tinder Gold – a firs-class swipe experience by Blog GoTinder by
- Insights on Bumble’s algorithm – /r/Bumble Reddit
- Tinder’s algorithm / how the “ELO Score” is calculated & what you can do to improve yours by Swipe Helper
- A fun but educational video by Business Insider on the 4 don’ts for a male Bumble profile
- What do people hate about the Bumble dating app? – Medium by Roman Sidorenko
- Too many choices: A problem that can paralyze – The New York Times by Alina Tugend