QR Code Scanner Vs Barcode Scanner: What Is The Difference?

November 13 , 2023

Nowadays, when information is literally at our fingertips, technologies such as QR codes and barcodes serve a critical role in smoothly integrating the physical and digital domains. While both serve similar purposes of encoding information for quick retrieval, there are distinctive differences between QR code scanners and barcode scanners. In this article, we will learn more about them to better grasp their distinct characteristics and uses.

What Is A Barcode?

Barcodes are a way of visually encoding information, allowing that information to be carried in physical form until it needs to be read by a digital management system. The barcode's black lines and numbers use certain taxonomies to ascribe information to the many shapes and combinations conceivable. In principle, barcodes can hold as much data as their width allows.

Understanding Barcode Technology

Barcodes have revolutionized inventory management and checkout processes worldwide. They employ a variety of symbologies, such as UPC for retail and Code 128 for logistics, to represent data in a machine-readable format. A standard barcode scanner uses a light source, a sensor, and a decoder. The light source illuminates the barcode, the sensor detects the reflected light from the barcode, and the decoder interprets the pattern of light and dark stripes to extract the information contained within the barcode. This technology is optimized for quick, linear scans, which makes it ubiquitous in environments where simplicity and speed are paramount.

1d Portable Barcode Scanner For Pos System

1d Portable Barcode Scanner For Pos System

Key Features Of Barcode Scanners

Simplicity: Barcodes, in contrast to QR codes, feature a more straightforward design. They consist of parallel lines of varying thickness and gaps, representing different sets of data. Because of their simplicity, barcodes are well-suited for basic identification and monitoring, particularly in areas like retail and logistics.

Widespread Use: Barcodes have a long history of usage and are industry-standardized, making them a global tool for product identification and inventory control. Barcodes are commonly found on product packaging, allowing for quick and accurate identification during the checkout process.

Cost-Effectiveness: One of the most notable advantages of barcode systems is their low cost. Implementing barcode technology is frequently less expensive than QR code systems, making it an appealing alternative for enterprises on a tight budget. The simplicity of barcodes, both in design and technology, contributes to lower hardware and software costs, making them accessible to a wide range of businesses.

What Are QR Codes?

QR codes, which stand for Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional matrix barcodes that may carry a variety of data such as text, URLs, contact information, and more. One of the key differentiators of QR codes is their ability to store data both horizontally and vertically, allowing for a higher storage capacity compared to traditional barcodes.

Efficient Handheld 1D Barcode Scanner for POS System

Efficient Handheld 1D Barcode Scanner for POS System

How Do QR Codes Work?

QR codes make extensive use of barcode technology and methodologies. They contain information that has been graphically encoded and is ready for scanning. The main difference is how QR codes organize this information. However, not all QR codes have the same functionality, as all QR codes are given an alphabetical code that determines the amount of physical code that can be blocked.

Key Features Of QR Code Scanners

High Data Capacity: QR codes are designed to store a vast amount of information, making them highly efficient for applications requiring extensive data storage. This functionality is particularly useful when exact information, such as product specifications or contact information, must be encoded.

Versatility: QR codes are notable for their flexibility in data encoding. They can hold binary data as well as special characters in addition to alphanumeric characters. This flexibility enables QR codes to be employed in diverse applications, such as linking to websites, sharing Wi-Fi network credentials, or storing event details.

Quick Scanning: QR code scanners are engineered for rapid and efficient scanning. The process of capturing and interpreting QR codes is designed to be swift, making them ideal for applications where speed is a crucial factor. Quick scanning capabilities help to ensure that QR codes are seamlessly integrated into mobile applications, allowing users to access information with a single scan.

Barcode Scanner Desktop for POS Systems

Barcode Scanner Desktop for POS Systems

What Are The Differences Between Them?

Understanding the key differences between barcode and QR code scanning technologies is essential. While traditional barcode scanners are adept at reading 1D barcodes, such as UPC, which feature a series of variable-width black and white lines, they cannot often interpret 2D barcodes. QR codes, as a subset of 2D barcodes, contain patterns of squares, dots, and unique shapes that encode data in two dimensions. This complexity requires a more advanced scanner with imaging technology that can capture and decode the entire symbol, rather than just reading a sequence of lines. Hence, an imaging-based QR code scanner is necessary for reading these intricate 2D codes.

QR codes fall into the 2D barcode category, characterized by their unique arrangement of squares, dots, and hexagons to encode data. Unlike 1D barcodes, QR codes demand specialized 2D barcode scanners for accurate interpretation. Because of design constraints, standard 1D barcode scanners cannot read QR codes.

When utilizing a 2D barcode scanner, it captures the entire image of the QR code at once. Subsequently, a decoding algorithm analyzes the complete image to extract the information encoded within the QR code. To ensure precise and efficient scanning of QR codes, it is imperative to use a dedicated 2D barcode scanner explicitly designed to handle the distinctive structure and encoding methods of QR codes.


The choice between the two depends on the specific needs of a given application, with QR codes excelling in scenarios requiring more data and versatility, and barcodes remaining a reliable and cost-effective solution for basic identification and tracking. If you are looking for a barcode scanner suitable for 1D or 2D codes, SYBLE is ideal for you. We are devoted to providing various barcode scanners. Shop in SYBLE at the best price now!

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