Hinge calls itself the dating app “designed to be deleted.” This is really just marketing, but it does confront an amusing paradox about dating apps. If they’re good at their job of helping you find the love of your life, you won’t have to use them for very long, and you can stop paying for them. The service backs up its bold claim with robust profiles, appealing interplay between text and visuals, and plenty of fun, flirty ways for users to interact. However, it moves at a slow pace, not helped by the restrictions on free users. This and other small annoyances just barely prevent Hinge from dethroning our Editors’ Choices, Match and Tinder. Note that all three of these services are owned by the same company, Match Group, which also owns OKCupid.
Getting Started With Hinge
Previously, Hinge’s gimmick was that it used your Facebook account to find connections. The app required a Facebook login, like a modern, superior version of what Zoosk also tried to be. That’s no longer the case. The only current dating app that makes you use Facebook is Facebook Dating. You now have the option to create a Hinge account with a phone number. Hinge is only available on mobile, and I tested it with an iPhone 11. There is a desktop website, but it’s only for buying celebratory “Delete Day” merchandise and was down at the time of my testing.
To create your account, you answer a standard questionnaire. Are you interested in men, women, or everyone? What’s your preferred age, distance, ethnicity, or religion? You can set these categories as dealbreakers to avoid seeing people you have zero interest in.
Your own personal information is divided into three categories: Virtues, Vitals, and Vices. Virtues include where you work, where you went to school, and your politics. Vitals include height, whether you have children, and where you live now. Vices are drinking, smoking, and whatever other drugs you do.
Things get more fun when you begin answering questions. The questions are the entertaining but typical icebreakers you’d expect from a dating app. What’s your greatest strength? What’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever received? What’s the one thing you want to know about a match?
Uploading photos is, surprisingly, the most novel part. You can pair each of your images with a prompt, a snippet of text to add extra context or irony. Prompts may also inspire you to add photos you may not have considered. For the prompt “Feeling cute might delete later” I added a selfie of me in vampire teeth. Other prompts include “Caught in the act,” “Don’t judge me,” and “If Grandma hijacked my Hinge, she’d add this.” It may seem simple, but clever ways of combining visuals and text is part of what makes Hinge such a joy to experience, especially once you start looking for matches.
Interface and Profiles
Hinge takes the best part of its fellow Match Group apps (Match, OkCupid, and Tinder) and blends them together into a greater whole. When looking for matches, at first, you’ll just see a big picture to say yes or no to, the slick standard mobile dating format Tinder pioneered. However, keep scrolling down for a profile that combines Match’s depth with OkCupid’s sense of fun.
Hinge profiles have a variety and stellar sense of presentation that make them appealing to browse. The classy, mostly monochrome design is dense with information yet stays readable and not too cluttered. As you go seamlessly from personal summaries to photos paired with prompts to videos to answers for personality questions, you can feel the people on the other end taking advantage of these tools to truly express themselves. Feeling like you’re getting to know the real person online before meeting them is one of the best tricks a dating app can hope to pull off.
Hinge profiles also turn browsing into a more active experience. You don’t just like a profile. You like a specific thing about a profile. Maybe it’s a picture. Maybe it’s an answer to a question. You’re then encouraged to write a little comment to send alongside that like, hopefully something more personal than just a boring “hey” you’d see elsewhere. If your pick likes you back, you then start messaging. Paid users can already see who likes them and can craft that first response accordingly. By giving your potential date a more detailed clue about why you like them, you’re more likely to have a better conversation out of the gate, improving your odds for a stronger, more lasting connection. High-quality profiles lead to high-quality matches and chats, which lead to high-quality relationships. You love to see it.
Arguably the one downside to this more thoughtful method is that using Hinge in general feels slower than other mobile rivals. You can instantly say no, but when saying yes, you’re forced to at least consider sending a comment as well before moving on. There’s no fast, mindless, shallow swiping. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s good or bad. I won’t judge.
Maybe Hinge’s more methodical pace is there to keep free users from noticing just how throttled they are. The free experience isn’t as ungenerous as that of, say, eharmony, which blurs photos until you pay up. However, with maybe only a dozen free likes a day, with Hinge you’ll run up against a wall much faster compared with Tinder, which may give you over 100 likes per day, depending on your situation.
If you want to use Hinge seriously, you need to be a paid Preferred Member. Subscriptions start at $19.99 for one month, $39.99 for three months, and $59.99 for six months. Along with unlimited likes, with a paid subscription you can see everyone who likes you. Free users only see likes if they’re mutual. You also get more advanced preference options to filter matches based on education, family plans, politics, and vices.
Social Distancing With Hinge
People are mostly staying at home because of the COVID-19 epidemic, and dating apps have been forced to respond. The responses have been different depending on the app, even for apps owned by the same company. When chatting in Hinge, you can use the “Dating From Home” menu to secretly tell the app you’re up for a video chat with your match. If both users consent, the app lets both of you know and you’ll avoid the awkwardness of being shut down. However, you can’t video chat inside the app itself. You’ll both have to use another video conferencing service if and when you’re ready to make that leap.
If you want video chat inside a dating app, check out Hinge’s sibling’s Match and Plenty of Fish, as well as Bumble and eharmony. Tinder at least lets you match with college classmates or folks in other countries for free. Facebook Dating doesn’t have built-in video chat, but Facebook users can use Messenger or Tuned, an experimental app made for quarantined couples.
Open the Door
Hinge is a dating app that’s easy to recommend. The “designed to be deleted” marketing speaks to a larger, savvy, youthful influencer vibe that’s also present in its beautiful, excellent, in-depth profiles. Seeing and reading about all that your matches have to offer really could help you find The One on your phone.
Hinge’s limitations on free accounts and its slower pace overall combine to keep Match and Tinder our Editors’ Choices for dating apps. Still, Hinge is a lovely alternative if you’ve burned out on those services and are looking for something vibrant and new.
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