Last updated on 2021-02-25
With its 2017 relaunch, the former “Let’s hook you up with your Facebook acquaintances” Hinge has reinvented itself and is trying to approach the concept of dating apps/sites from a different angle. The app we’re reviewing today is all about ease of use, smart functionality, and finding what you’re looking for so you can delete it again. Hinge bridges the gap between simplistic swiping à la Tinder & Bumble and time consuming, novel writing, job searching simulators like OkCupid and Match. How does this compromise hold up in the real world? And does the new and improved Hinge have a realistic shot at dethroning the faltering king Tinder?
Update: As of my newer online dating service review, things have taken a decidedly worse turn for Hinge, and I would no longer recommend it as a viable option if Tinder & Bumble work for you. Most of this review still applies, but for the current issues with the app, see the linked review.
The Dating App that Was Designed to Be Deleted – Hinge Review
As mentioned, Hinge tries to be more than a superficial swiping app, while not overcomplicating things and streamlining the process of finding your ideal partner, or at least your next date. That means we fill in a bit more information about ourselves, and answer a few profile questions; which turns out to be a lot less effort than deciding what to put in your short Tinder bio.
It also means there is no swiping per se. Instead, we like a specific portion of their profile and get the option of leaving a (short) comment while doing so. Because we can set relatively specific filters (hard or soft, more on that later), our suggested matches tend to be more relevant than what we’re used to from Tinder et al.
In terms of ease of use and efficiency of the process, Hinge is still much closer to Tinder than classic dating sites, in that your profile is created in minutes rather than days/weeks, and you’re not wasting time coming up with lengthy (but not too lengthy) messages to people who will still decide whether or not to respond to (or even read) said message mainly on the merits of your profile picture, no matter how not-superficial the site’s marketing would have you believe its users are.
When I say closer to Tinder, I actually mean vastly superior to Tinder because that additional profile info and filtering does help, and because everything works as expected.
Look and Feel
Hinge comes in a clean, minimalistic, modern design and feels quick and responsive to the touch. Even though there are at times more elements in view than with Tinder, it feels less cluttered, more organized. Settings, filters, and action buttons are where you would expect them to be, and it’s a very intuitive experience in general. Since pictures say more than words, let’s cut to the (official) short tour video of the app in use before we go into detail:
[If you can’t see the video, you may need to disable any ad blockers, or add an exception.]
Compared to Tinder, Hinge will ask you for a fair bit of additional information like religion, ethnicity, smoking and drinking habits, etc., most of which you are free to refuse to provide. It’s just that completely filled in profiles tend to be more attractive. When you’re done, it will look something like this:
- You can choose which three questions you want to answer out of a reel of a few dozen (maybe more).
- You can choose which information to make publicly visible and which to hide. The hidden information is still used for matchmaking purposes.
- You have to upload six images and when deleting one, the app actually asks you for a replacement rather than just removing that image.
- You can comment on images, which might come in handy to make it clear the shirtless Adonis you’re hugging is your brother.
Of course, while all that info will be useful to find you the best matches, what will matter most are the pics you choose. Here, the same ground rules apply as for Tinder profile pictures.
Browsing Profiles / Matching
Like Tinder, your potential matches are displayed in a kind of reel where you will only see the next profile once you made a decision on the current one. Unlike Tinder, you don’t swipe left as soon as you see that person’s face, but rather press the X button to nope out, and instead of swiping right, you select one specific part of their profile you liked and optionally comment on why that is as you press “Like”.
This gives browsing profiles in Hinge a tiny bit more depth, and it’s nice to see what exactly the people who liked you liked about you (more on that later). It also gives you an opportunity to open the conversation with a relevant comment on that thing you liked, preferably in a way that lets them pick up on your follow up.
Because you also only get five (free) likes per day, chances are both you and the people looking at your profile will give your likes a bit more thought, which in turn gives them more weight. It’s also kind of nice to only spend a few minutes a day browsing profiles on a dating app (chatting excluded).
The discovery queue takes a bit longer than expected to load. This could be improved.
Using Filters / Preferences
Hinge also gives you the option of using filters that go beyond the usual age and height limits.
Not only can you declare your preferences for your matches’ Religion, Ethnicity, alcohol consumption, and family plans (the latter two are premium options); You can also make these hard preferences (dealbreakers) that will filter out anyone not meeting them, or you can make them soft, meaning Hinge will try to show you mostly fitting profiles, but mix in others you might like too (and fill in the blanks once you run out of your preferred profiles). In the end, your preferences screen might look like this:
With Hinge, seeing who already liked you is part of the standard matching and chatting experience, as opposed to being its own super ultra premium subscription tier. I kind of like that.
If someone likes you first, you get a notification about it and their profile will be added to your “Likes You” reel, which looks mostly like your normal discovery queue, except it shows you what they liked about you and their comment, if any:
Matching / Messaging / Meeting
Once you’ve liked somebody who turns out to like you too, you can start/continue a conversation with them from your match screen. Hinge “hides” chats that have been inactive for a while to lend a sense of urgency, but you can always continue those chats at- and after any time. There’s also a “Your Turn” call to action that might lead to more active responses, but the jury is still out on that one.
Usually, if you’re the one to make the match, meaning if they liked you first, you’re prompted to start the chat. The app does however give you the option of putting the ball in the other’s court by “inviting them to start the chat”. A bit of a weak move, but I guess it’s better than just no message at all. Is it?
So far, so familiar. A bit of a novelty is what happens after you said all the right things and went on a date with your match. Hinge gives you the option of telling them how your date went (privately), so the algorithm can make smarter recommendations in the future, presumably based on who also liked/disliked going out with that match and people like her, and whom else they liked in person.
You can see the feature in action in this short (official) clip:[If you can’t see the video, you may need to disable any ad blockers, or add an exception.] “We Met” seems like a good idea in theory. In practice, I would presume a vast number of users is necessary to make it work, which brings us to the next point.
Popularity / User Base
While Hinge brings a lot to the table, it’s not exactly the world’s N°1 dating app yet. Interest is steadily rising compared to Tinder, but keep in mind that interest does not equal active users. Of course a low number of long-time users might also speak to the “Designed to be uninstalled” mentality, but the fact of the matter is that unless you live in a high population density area, chances are you’ll run out of potential matches sooner rather than later.
In such cases, Hinge lets you go through everyone you’ve already seen again, in case you want to change your mind about them, or you could widen your preferences. Resetting your account seems comparatively unnecessary in most situations.
On the bright side, those users Hinge does have seem a lot more interested, interesting, and relevant than your average (potential) Tinder match. Apart from the bots/shills/catfishers that is, which appear more prevalent than on other apps, which might have something to do with a lack of controls beyond reporting. Hinge was not reachable for comments through their press email.
In any case, despite the lower user numbers I can personally report significantly higher match rates and quality on Hinge than on Tinder and generally better conversations.
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 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.
How well that works remains to be seen once there are more users.
As expected, Hinge comes with a premium plan to improve your experience, supposedly. For a base $10 per month, you get:
- Unlimited likes
- Setting advanced filter preferences (like drug use, family plans, etc.)
- A more organized “likes you” view
- “Ask an expert” (Hinge staff advice on your profile)
I could see myself paying for this “preferred membership” for the unlimited likes and advanced filters, but to be honest, it feels rather unnecessary unless you want to set more dealbreakers. The app works fine as is. Which is nice, but might foreshadow a more aggressive premium push in the future.
They do give you a free month after you sign up, so you can see for yourself.
Hinge is an excellently designed and programmed dating app that feels intuitive to use. It strikes a perfect balance between the lighthearted swiping app experience and more informative profiles as well as filtered and relevant matches. I have not encountered any bugs in my two months of using the app, but I did come across a suspicious amount of fake profiles.
As for dethroning Tinder, that may or may not be in the interest of the match group, which owns both Tinder and Hinge (since 2018). Seeing how much Tinder went downhill since they were bough out by match, that fact doesn’t exactly instill hope for a bright future and I’d expect less user friendly monetization strategies to rear their ugly heads as soon as (or if) Hinge becomes popular enough. For the moment though, Hinge represents a vast improvement over Tinder (and Bumble, and OkCupid) in terms of functionality, matching design and user experience. All it needs is more users (like you).
For more details and questions, see The Unofficial Hinge F.A.Q. There are some remaining open questions that I was unfortunately not able to get an official response to, such as how Hinge handles bots, and account resets, or in what form user data is retained. I’ll keep you posted.
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