Yo, here's a vulnerable snap of my iPhone


New research gives iPhone users another reason to be smug, finding they are the most successful at online dating. It also reveals handy tips for virtual dating etiquette

FOLLOWING UP on a study last year that found iPhone users were more affluent, educated and productive in their employment than users of other smartphones – Blackberry, Android (the Google phone), Nokia, and so on – this week, iPhone users were given a further reason to be super-smug.

A new study finds that of all smartphone owners who use online dating services, iPhone users have the highest average of sexual partners by age 30. Trailing in their wake are Blackberry and Android users. Perhaps not coincidentally, the survey also finds that the iPhone takes a more attractive picture for you to use on the profile page of an online dating site than do competing models.

The study was conducted by OkCupid, one of the world’s largest internet dating sites. “We crossed all kinds of user behaviours with the camera models and found we had data on the number of sexual partners for 9,785 people with smartphones. We dropped what we found into Excel – and voila,” the company says.

There was a gender split in the results, with the survey finding that female iPhone users had an average of 12.3 sexual partners by age 30 (the males had 10); female Blackberry users had an average of 8.8 sexual partners (males had 8.1); and female Android users had an average of 6.1 partners (males had 6). Both straight and gay sexual activity was included.

What the survey also reveals is that there is a different form of etiquette when using online dating services on a smartphone. It’s now known that the language you use when messaging potential dates is of crucial importance, particularly the first sentence you send. The average first message on online dating sites contains 743 characters, but experts now say that a well-composed message containing just 50 characters will increase your chances of keeping the conversation going. This is fine if you’re just cruising through profiles seeing if somebody (anybody!) will bite, but if you have zoned in on one particular person and things seem to be going well, then you really should be increasing the length of your messages as the contact develops.

It’s also important to be literate – no “u”, “ur”, “wat” and especially not “luv” shorthand in your message, and spell the words out properly – and if you’re the sort of tragic case that uses “LOL” (lots of laughs), desist immediately. The only net shorthand allowed is “haha” (though never “hehe” because research finds that this is “a bit evil-sounding”). Also avoid physical compliments for the first few messages – and when you do use them, never write “beautiful”, write “pretty” instead. “Sexy” is verboten, as is “gorgeous”, but worst of all is “cutie”. What works are terms such as “fascinating”, “cool” and even “awesome” – though the latter term has to be used judiciously and never as an adjective in front of a body part.

“Hi”, “Hey” and “Hello” simply don’t work as initial greetings, but “What’s Up” and “Howdy” do. Even “Yo!” scores higher than “Hello”, surprisingly. The use of specific terms is vital – sentences with the word “band”, “movie”, and “vegetarian” provoke interest and get longer conversations going. Frequent use of the terms “you mention . . .” or “I’m curious what you think about . . .” are very good moves. If you’re male, using the words “sorry”, “apologise” and “awkward” will help your case no end – “it’s about vulnerability, not sweaty desperation”, according to researchers.

Then, of course, the profile picture you use in online dating circles can be a deal maker or breaker. Never use the “duckface” pose (puckering up as if you’re about to kiss the camera) and, contrary to received wisdom, a smile pose doesn’t work that well. The research shows that women should “flirt, not smile”, while men should look away from the camera (the aloof look, all hurt and vulnerable). Men can pose with a cute kitten or puppy (affectionate), but women can’t (madness). A shirtless male profile picture always gets more “hits”, but men should never pose with a drink in their hand. For women, the best possible pose is to have the picture taken when you are deeply engrossed in something interesting. And yes, “showing some flesh, but not too much” does help.

Now Android phone users – feeling slighted by their low rankings in the findings – are fighting back on net chat forums, stating that “the results just show that we have more stable and rewarding sexual lives than slutty iPhone users”. Blackberry users are waiting until they’re e-mailed the survey before they comment.