Bumble Review | PCMag

Bumble Review

Who runs the (dating) world? Girls

4.0

The Bottom Line

Bumble is the dating app for women who want to be empowered, and men who want to let women make the first move.

PCMag editors select and review products independently. We may earn affiliate commissions from buying links, which help support our testing. Learn more.

Pros

  • Excellent privacy and safety features
  • Robust free version
  • Fun and inclusive interface
  • Video chat

Cons

  • Profiles less meaty than other apps'
  • Superfluous friend-finder and business-networking options

Bumble is the dating app that puts the power in women's hands. For a man to be able to contact a woman, she must first have shown interest in him, adding a layer of safety that other services lack. Created by one of the co-founders of Tinder, Bumble shares a lot of features with that popular app—specifically the concept of swiping to show your interest in a fellow user—but this app comes across much less like a meat market. If you are a guy who is happy to sit back and let the woman control the interactions, Bumble is your choice. And if you're a woman who wants to take the power back in the online dating sphere—and cut down on all of the unwanted "lol u up?" inbound messages—Bumble is where you want to be.

Getting Started With Bumble

Bumble is available as both an iOS app and an Android app, as well as the new desktop site Bumble Web. The Bumble site is full of info about its philosophy, a blog called The Buzz, and a way to sign up to be a Bumble brand ambassador on your campus.

Like many other dating apps, Bumble really wants you to log in via Facebook, but you also have the option to just use your phone number. After inputting your digits and adding your confirmation code sent via text message, the profile-building begins. First, the app asks for a photo—even before getting to things like name, sex, and age. Of course, Bumble handily prompts you to auto-fill from Facebook again, and you're given the option to add more photos right at the start.

Bumble first date

Unlike most other apps, rather than making you pick a gender, Bumble asks what you identify as. It shares this trait with other, more-modern services like Hinge and OkCupid, which lets you choose between a number of gender identities, including Hijra, genderfluid, and two-spirit.

From there, you're asked your name and birthday (which, again, you are prompted to use Facebook to complete). This is one of the few apps that asks for an email specifically for recovery purposes. Thankfully, you are given the option to opt out of updates about events and promotions, which most other apps sign you up for without bothering to ask.

After filling out those simple requests, you can further beef up your profile. Bumble gives you the option to answer questions like who your dream dinner guest is, play "two truths and a lie," or complete aspirational writing prompts like "Equality to me means..." and "My most recent act of kindness..." Aww...

You can also connect your Spotify and Instagram accounts, a feature that one of our Editors' Choices, Tinder, also offers.

While the signup process is quick and easy, Bumble doesn't ask you the extensive list of personality questions that competitors such as Match (another Editors' Choice) and eharmony do. That's good if you want to get in and matching quickly, but bad if you prefer apps that use more data to help you make the perfect connection.

After your first sign-in, the app explains that Bumble is where you build your Hive (which is its term for everyone you can meet on the app—love interests, new friends, and even business partners) and promises to be "the easiest and safest way" to create connections. You then get a screen with a sweet story about how the app is built on kindness, empowerment, and respect (though it's not above a good "be"/"bee" pun) and asks you to be kind, confident, and respectful. Few apps care to set some ground rules at the get-go like this, even if this is the slimmest of requests. Bumble pleases with its inclusiveness, offering the option to be into not just men or women, but "everyone."

Bumble interest

Bumble also offers you the rare option of finding not just dates, but also new friends (called Bumble BFFs) and even people to network with (Bumble Bizz). It's equal parts dating app, friend finder, and pastel-colored LinkedIn.

You can make separate profiles for each mode. The business mode is mostly filled with one-person tech companies selling their side hustle or headhunting. Bumble BFF is a fine idea, but if you're a guy, it only serves up profiles of other men. Assuming men can’t be friends with women is strangely non-"woke" for this app, but there’s a legitimate argument to be made for privacy and safety concerns.

Interface and Profiles

Indicate a preference for women and Bumble (now called Bumble Date) lets you know that "in our hive, ladies make the first move." It even drops a little Tinder shade by reminding you that "gone are the days of dead-end matches and unwanted messages." Tinder's interface, by contrast, is based primarily on a hot-or-not finger swipe that's focused more on looks and less on…everything else. This is the point in the process where Bumble asks you to open your wallet, but more on that later.

As mentioned, unless a woman expresses interest in you first, all you can do as a guy to show you like a fellow user is swipe right, tap the check mark icon in someone's profile, or tap a heart (to show you're really, really into someone). In theory, once you've told Bumble that you're not interested in someone, they should no longer show up in your search results, but this doesn't always work.

You can swipe after seeing just a first photo, but Bumble really wants you to check out profiles in their entirety. The app prompts you to view all of a person's photos and read his or her bio before serving up the X (you're not interested) or check mark (you are interested) at the bottom of the screen. That said, profiles are very photo-focused, signaling that, like Tinder, Bumble is more of a place for casual dating than finding your forever person. Aside from the main photo, profiles show a written summary of who the person is looking for, and profile basics like height, education level, pet ownership, and politics. From there it serves up more photos, Instagram and Spotify accounts (if connected), answers to the questions filled out during signup ("Nightclub or Netflix?"), and location. Bumble even uses AI to blur unsolicited nudes.

In another nod to Tinder, you can swipe left and right in lieu of tapping the X and check mark to note your interest. As mentioned, if a user indicates interest and the other person matches back, then the woman has 24 hours to start a conversation (in same-gender connections, both parties can message immediately). 

Once you have a mutual connection, Bumble gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and kindly offers up some icebreaker prompts. Despite the 24-hour limitation to respond to messages, guys can use a Daily Extend feature that allows them to keep the communication window open—basically like saying "please, please talk to me?" Otherwise, if the 24-hour window closes with no contact, the app un-matches you, and the potential for connection is closed. With Snooze mode, users can also pause their profiles while maintaining current matches.

Premium Extras

Members can browse, connect, and communicate with other members for free, which is a great value considering that competitors like Match and eharmony charge more than $40 for those features. You can also unlock an upgraded account called Bumble Boost, which offers Tinder-like features that let you see who's interested, extend your matches if you don't have a chance to respond within 24 hours, and reconnect with expired connections (which, of course, completely undercuts the value proposition of the 24-hour limit). However, this won’t promote your profile to more users, despite what the Boost name might seem imply. Boost starts at $8.99 for a one-week trial, or you can pay $24.99 for a single month. Longer subscriptions lower the monthly cost.

Bumble boost

You can also purchase Bumble Coins, which start at $1.99 each and give you the option to SuperSwipe a profile. This entails tapping a heart on the users' profile to say "I really, really think I like you and I'm willing to spend $1.99 to show you in the form of an extra icon." Each SuperSwipe costs one coin.

Social Distancing With Bumble

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many parts of society, rendering in-person dates a no-go. That hurts men and women alike. Fortunately, Bumble offers some of the best virtual dating options among these apps. Matches can communicate not just through text but also with audio notes. You can video chat, too. Add the Virtual Dating badge to your profile to let your partner know you’re ready for the call, as well as a contributor to Bumble’s COVID-19 WHO charity. The Buzz blog has tips on dating while social distancing. You can even match with anyone in your country now, not just those in a 100-mile radius.

Other dating apps offer their own quarantine solutions. For video chat, check out eharmony, Match, and Plenty of Fish. Tinder expands your pool of potential dates with free versions of Tinder U and Tinder Passport. Hinge lets you tell your date you’re ready to see their face, even if you need to use a different app to do so. Facebook Dating benefits from the rest of the Facebook ecosystem, from Messenger to the new Tuned app for connecting faraway partners during this crisis. 

It's a Woman's World

There's a lot to like about Bumble: Its entire business is predicated on making you feel good about using the app. You can communicate with connections for free, and the interface takes a potentially stressful situation and makes it somehow serene. Even if its photo-focused profiles have more of a casual dating vibe, Bumble is an excellent choice for women who have safety and privacy concerns—and men who don't mind letting women make the first move. For those looking for a long-term relationship, Match is our Editors' Choice for dating apps thanks to its robust profiles and easy-to-use interface, but Bumble is a solid alternative, especially for women who want to play it safe in the dating jungle.

Bumble

4.0

Pros

  • Excellent privacy and safety features
  • Robust free version
  • Fun and inclusive interface
  • Video chat
View More

Cons

  • Profiles less meaty than other apps'
  • Superfluous friend-finder and business-networking options

The Bottom Line

Bumble is the dating app for women who want to be empowered, and men who want to let women make the first move.

Bumble Specs

Video Calls Yes
Desktop App Yes
Starting Price $24.99 per month
Mobile App Yes
Free Account Offered Yes

Best Dating Picks

Further Reading

About Karl Klockars

Karl Klockars
Even after testing seven dating apps for PCMag, Karl Klockars remains happily married to his wonderfully understanding and awesome wife, Nora, and lives in Chicago. He is the author of Beer Lovers Chicago, runs the guysdrinkingbeer.com site, writes for outlets including AskMen, Chicago Magazine, and Thrillist, and recently entered the world of voice-over at klockarsVO.com.

Read the latest from Karl Klockars

About Jordan Minor

Jordan Minor
Software Analyst Jordan Minor really just wants to use his fancy Northwestern University journalism degree to write about video games. He was previously the senior editor for Geek.com and a PCMag intern before that. He’s also written for Kotaku, The A.V. Club, and Paste Magazine. He’s the reason everything you think you know about Street Sharks is a lie. 

Read the latest from Jordan Minor