Last updated on 2019-10-20
While Tinder has popularized the swipe-based dating app format, and has become pretty much a household name over the years, it’s by far not the only option for swipe-happy singles out there. Bumble entered the market at the end of 2014, at the height of Tinder’s popularity. For all intents and purposes a Tinder clone with a twist (explained later), Bumble was the final result of an internal dispute at Tinder.
Whether you’re new to online dating and trying to decide which of these intuitively accessible dating apps to devote your time and energy to, or you’re a regular Tinder veteran and contemplating a switch, this review is for you!
- 1 Tinder vs. Bumble – a Comparison
- 1.1 Popularity
- 1.2 Profile
- 1.3 Swipe/Match UI
- 1.4 Algorithm
- 1.5 Chat
- 1.6 Other/Premium Features
- 1.7 User Base
- 2 Verdict
Tinder vs. Bumble – a Comparison
While exact and/or official data on Tinder’s user numbers are hard to come by, Bumble claims 22 million users as of November 2017, with 46% of them female. There is an unofficial report on Tinder’s users from 2015, claiming 50 million users with 38% of them female (and 42% in a relationship), but that has been disputed by Tinder as the result of a tiny 681 person survey in the UK.
Perhaps an easier method to compare these apps’ popularity would be to consult google, the all knowing (chorus: all hail google). Granted, google trends just displays search volume, but where there is interest, there are bound to be users.
As we can see from google trends data, Tinder hit a plateau around 2015, while Bumble garners more and more interest. It should be noted that there is a pre-existing baseline to searches for “bumble”, but there is definitely an uptrend.
While it suffered from low user numbers initially, Bumble undoubtedly profited from its relatively bug free experience and no-nonsense approach to UI and features. Meanwhile, the increasingly bloated Tinder reigns supreme as king of popularity, all issues aside. For how much longer is hard to say.
Both Tinder and Bumble are built on the premise that liking somebody’s looks is the first step towards dating, and anything else can take a back seat until you’re actually talking. A premise I agree with, by the way, if only for the sake of efficiency. As such, both services offer ample space for pictures, and Tinder even lets you post short video clips. That said, you do get the chance to introduce yourself quickly before people swipe right or left on your face, provided they choose to read your profile first.
Tinder stays truer to the original mission and only gives you fields for a (very) short bio text, your job, education, and links to your Instagram and Spotify accounts to let your character shine through.
Meanwhile, Bumble offers you more options to tell your potential matches something about yourself, but is still an essay section and personality test removed from classic dating sites like OkCupid or Match.
How thoroughly you prefer to describe yourself, and how much you need to know about someone before swiping, of course depends on your personal preferences. I for one lean towards Tinder’s approach, as I think discovering these things about one another makes for great conversation fuel and is more exciting than reading a lengthy profile. Though I do like the structured approach Bumble is taking to provide outlets for typical bio contents such as height or smoking/nonsmoking persuasion.
Both Tinder and Bumble feature an inviting and easy to use interface. Basically, you swipe right on people’s pictures if you like someone and left if you don’t. If you’ve gotten used to tapping to open a profile on Tinder, it may take a while to get used to swiping up for the same action in Bumble, but all in all they look fairly similar.
Some noticeable differences include
- Tinder still offers buttons for all actions, while Bumble uses the screen space for bigger pictures
- To undo the last swipe, press a button on Tinder; shake your phone on Bumble
- To see more pictures, tap left/right to flip through pictures on Tinder, swipe up on bumble (fluid scroll)
- To open a profile, tap the middle of a picture or name on Tinder, swipe up and scroll all the way down on Bumble.
Both of these are valid approaches, but personally, I prefer Tinder’s interface. I do not, for example, like to shake my phone to perform an action, especially in public.
It would appear that with Hinge’s acquisition by the match group, Tinder has been copying Hinge’s matching system, replacing their own algorithm, or at least incorporated its philosophy into their existing structures.
As opposed to assigning users desirability scores, Hinge’s (and now Tinder’s) algorithm tries to guess who might be your type based on whom else other people who historically liked the same profiles as you also liked, and vice versa.
Bumble, meanwhile, seems to still be using the basic Tinder algorithm from way back when, with an added tendency to show you their most attractive users first. I mean, they would not admit it, but they did get sued over it (allegedly).
Due to how much most people’s (or guys’) match counts have suffered since Tinder revamped their algorithm, I would say sticking to the basics is a point in Bumble’s favor here.
Tinder’s chat used to be so bad it deserved its own category in a review. There have always been bugs and issues with chats not loading, dropping a conversation or failing to deliver messages. While these have been getting better, the chat had become all but unusable by the introduction of “Reactions” Oct 2017… Tap the wrong part of the chat while writing and suddenly the reactions overlay blocks your view of the text box, not even allowing you to send what you already typed. So annoying. Thankfully, they seem to have quietly removed this “feature” in the meantime. Now Tinder’s chat is okay, when it works.
Bumble’s chat seems to work fine. It’s just a chat. What could go wrong, right?
As mentioned, initially Bumble was basically a Tinder clone with a twist: Women have to message first. If they don’t do so within 24 hours, the match expires and disappears from the list. This may sound like a good, feminist idea but it suffers from a fatal flaw: It turns out women (generally) do not want to make the first move, and if they do, the message usually ends up being “hi”, passing the ball back to the guy. This results in many expired matches, missed opportunities, and conversations that still tend to be carried by the men.
Apart from this main difference, Tinder just has more features. Not all of them are useful for everybody (or anybody), but some are nice to have. Granted, most are paid for. For a complete list and thorough explanations of Tinder’s features, see this guide. For the short comparison of relevant features, read on. For the even shorter table, skip to the end.
With Bumble, you have the option of verifying your account by taking a quick selfie in a specific pose. After successful verification, your profile gets a little blue check mark symbol reminiscent of Twitter’s verified accounts. Apart from letting you feel like a celebrity, verifying your account has two main benefits:
- It lets your potential matches know you’re who you’re claiming to be and not a bot, or catfish.
- It’s a convenient way for Bumble to keep the app bot free. A problem that has plagued Tinder for quite some Time, and a vastly more elegant and practical solution than Tinder’s approach to combating bots that ends up hurting paying customers.
Verdict: Very useful and highly recommended to increase your odds of matching.
Rewind / Backtrack
In case you swiped on someone by accident, this lets you get their profile back to correct your mistake. For Tinder, this is a Plus feature, while Bumble gives you three free ones per day.
Verdict: Very useful and one of the main reasons to get Tinder Plus.
Unlimited Right Swipes
It feels wrong to call this a feature, as it is more the lifting of a swipe restriction Tinder put in place to (unsuccessfully) attempt to curb the endless right swiping by men. Officially at least. Conveniently, you can bypass this restriction of 100 right swipes daily for money.
Bumble has no such restrictions or “features”.
Super Likes / Super Swipes
These special likes let your match to be know how much you care, for better or worse. Super liking/swiping someone brings your profile near the top of their deck and lets it stand out with a special flair. Tinder offers one free super like per day, and five with Tinder Plus. Bumble lets you purchase these creepy little tokens of affection for a complete stranger for just three bucks a pop. Lol.
Verdict: Usefulness dubious at best. Could come across just as creepy as endearing.
Tinder Passport lets you swipe in other locations as if you were there. Whether you have a long commute and prefer to swipe closer to home while at work, or you’re going on vacation soon and want to find a date in advance, or you’re just bored and curious what the world has to offer: This feature is for you.
Sadly, Bumble offers no such feature, and to make matters worse, they even draw a hard line at country borders within your search radius. Meaning if you live near the border and wouldn’t mind crossing it in the pursuit of love, Bumble will block you harder than Border Patrol. You can only see people from the country you’re in.
Verdict: Very useful and/or entertaining. The other main reason to get Tinder Plus.
Seeing who already likes you
Both Tinder and Bumble offer the possibility to see a list of people who already liked you. In Bumble’s case, this is part of their subscription plan “Boost”, while Tinder created the additional (and more expensive) subscription tier “Tinder Gold” for this.
Verdict: I don’t get why you would need to know. Just swipe based on whether you like someone.
Not to be confused with Bumble’s “Boost” premium subscription, Tinder’s boosts push your profile to the forefront of your target demographic’s decks. While this does net you more matches than usual, one could argue it wouldn’t be necessary if Tinder hadn’t so severely gimped our normal match rates suspiciously close to the introduction of boosts.
One per month is free for Plus users, and more can be purchased as consumables. Bumble has no such option.
Verdict: Certainly useful, but only because normal match rates have been going down the drain, conveniently.
More Tinder features
Tinder has so many features, but not all of them are relevant. Some of the creepier Plus features include hiding your age or distance, or only letting people see you if you swiped right on them. Creepy because these could only be useful if you want to keep your Tinder activities hidden from certain people for certain reasons. You can also pay more to get a random selection of slightly hotter than usual matches with “Top Picks”, as the second feature of Tinder Gold.
More Bumble features
Bumble Boost in general doesn’t come as feature packed as Tinder Plus, and apart from seeing who liked you, the only remaining features are exclusively relevant to Bumble’s “Ladies First” gimmick.
- Extend Match. Give her another 24 hours to make the first move.
- Rematch: Get the option of matching anew with expired matches.
Verdict: Certainly not useless, but kind of a desperate grasp at straws. “Maybe all she needs is more time to come up with a cool opener”.
|Rewind / Backtrack||Plus||Free: 3/d||Yes|
|Super Likes /|
|Free: 1/d |
|Control whom you see||Plus||-||No|
|Control who sees you||Plus||-||Depends|
|See Who Liked You||Gold||Boost||Depends|
|Boosts||Plus: 1/m |
|Extend Expiring Matches||-||Boost||Bumble|
|Rematch Expired Matches||-||Boost||Bumble|
We already went over popularity, where Tinder is clearly the crowd favorite, and it can in fact be difficult to find many people on Bumble in more rural areas and suburbs. Basically, if you’re not in a decently sized city, you will run out of people to swipe on within minutes of installing the app.
That being said, there’s more to the differences in demographics between Bumble and Tinder than just sheer population size.
For one thing, with Bumble your potential matches will not be limited to people of a similar level of attractiveness as yourself. Tinder employs an algorithm to determine how desirable you are, and shows you mostly people who are on the same level. Bumble does, in a much simpler procedure, determine how popular you are, but the effects are limited to showing you more popular profiles first. Eventually you’ll see them all.
For another, both women and men of Bumble tend to be more on the professional career type. You can find people of all walks of life on both apps, but if you’re a well educated and successful professional, chances are you will find more of your peers on Bumble.
I guess the image of Tinder as a hook up app has stuck too, as less people are looking to actually date on Tinder than on Bumble, which is not to say you can’t find them.
Despite their differences, both of these swipe-based dating apps have their merits and both do what they set out to do reasonably well. As such it is not as simple as picking a clear winner. It all comes down to your priorities and situation. Bumble is not as popular and does not have as many users as Tinder (yet), but if you live in a big(ish) city, it’s a viable alternative, or may even be better suited to your needs than Tinder. If it’s important to you to be able to match with people in other cities or countries, you have no other option than Tinder (Plus).
In general, Bumble suffers from fewer bugs and feels less over encumbered by features (both useful and useless). Though some of the design decisions may not be everybody’s cup of tea, and the Ladies’ First thing just doesn’t work as well as we’d like.
Better Free Version: Bumble
Tinder Plus is certainly feature packed, while Bumble Boost doesn’t offer all that much. But all those premium features come at a price, both literally and figuratively, as they are missing from the free version. Bumble offers a working dating app for free, and includes many features (or lack of inhibitions) that Tinder charges a premium for.
Premium Feature Champion: Tinder
In terms of raw feature bulk, Tinder has Bumble beat hands down. While not all premium features may be useful to all subscribers, there’s bound to be something in there for everyone. For me personally, Rewind and Passport are reason enough to pay for Tinder Plus, while I would never recommend getting Tinder Gold.
Keeping all the above in mind, there is no reason why you absolutely have to decide between these two, or to concentrate all your dating efforts on just one app. You’ll find out quickly if one of them is vastly more useful than the other, or if they complement each other nicely. Also, matching with somebody on both apps simultaneously offers one hell of a conversation starter. Since Bumble’s free version is rock solid, I’d suggest giving it a go, whether you’re a Tinder veteran, or an online dating newbie.
I hope you found this review helpful. Thoughts? Criticism? Praise? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. See you there