scanning qr code with android phone

These days, barcodes and Quick Response (QR) codes can be found everywhere, from warehouses to supermarkets. Using a device’s camera, the codes provide instantaneous information about a particular item by redirecting your device’s display to a website, app, payment screen, or menu that contains the data you need.

Android users can scan and read QR codes with ease, thanks to the devices’ built-in camera. There’s also a wide range of Google Play apps for barcode scanning. However, the safest and easiest option is to use a dedicated mobile scanning device. Keep reading for a step-by-step breakdown on how to scan codes with your smartphone or another device and some recommendations for the best mobile barcode scanners.

How to Scan a Barcode With an App

barcode scanning from android phone

The camera app on newer generation Android phones has a built-in QR code scanning capability. In most cases, all you have to do is open the app and place the code in front of the lens. However, to scan QR codes, older Android OS versions need third-party software. Furthermore, all Android devices require a specific program for barcode scanning.

Fortunately, the Google Play Store has a multitude of top-notch barcode and QR code scanning software. The apps all have similar features and interfaces. They will allow you to easily scan both barcodes and QR codes. Here’s how to get them:

  1. Launch the Google Play Store app on your home screen.
  2. Type “barcode scanner” in the search dialog box at the top of the screen.
  3. Select an app from the search results and open it.
  4. Tap the green “Install” button to start the download.
  5. Once the download is complete, launch the barcode scanning app. Point the in-app camera at the barcode so that it fits in the little box on the screen.

After the barcode is read, the app will offer several recommended actions based on the scanned data. Most commonly, you can either directly visit the website or download the info on your Android device.

How to Scan a QR Code With Phone

scanning qr code with android phone

You can search a QR code using Google Lens instead of downloading a third-party app. An alternative method is doing it via the built-in camera app, but that only works with newer generation models.

Since Google Lens is integrated into Google Assistant on most Android phones, you can launch it by pressing and holding the home button. After that, you’ll be able to scan the QR code. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press down the Home button to launch Google Assistant.
  2. On most versions of Assistant, the Lens appears automatically. If that’s not the case, tap the three dots at the bottom of the screen to access it. The Lens icon (blue circle encased in lines) will then pop up on the left-hand side.
  3. Point the camera at the code and make sure it’s entirely captured.
  4. Tap the tiny magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen to start scanning.
  5. Once Google Lens scans the code, a pop-up notification will appear. Tap to access the information gathered from the code.

Some Android models have a QR code reader integrated into the native camera app. That means you can scan it by simply positioning the code inside the viewfinder. Here’s how:

  1. Launch the built-in Camera app.
  2. Point your phone at the QR code and hold it steady for a few seconds. Make sure all four corners of the code are visible.
  3. A pop-up notification will appear containing the data embedded in the QR code.

If nothing happens, your version of Android OS probably doesn’t support the feature. In that case, you’ll need to download a third-party app. Keep reading to find out the top five barcode scanning apps available on Google Play.

Mobile App vs. In-Built Scanning Hardware

handheld barcode scanner device DataLogic Joya Touch

Since your phone can get you through most items on your to-do list, it’s only natural to assume it can also handle barcode scanning. And, to a certain degree, that’s true. There are some drawbacks you need to bear in mind, though. Depending on your barcode scanning needs, there are more efficient ways to search and capture data.

A mobile scanning device is a more precise solution since it was designed specifically for that purpose. Here are some of the reasons why a handheld wireless scanner might be a better option:

  • Security. A portable barcode scanner typically has better security levels than a smartphone. This is especially important if you’re in charge of a delivery center or warehouse. Also, since barcode scanners aren’t intended to store or exchange data, they’re less likely to be a security risk than smartphones. Next, scanners are typically stored in a special location at the end of the day, while your phone is always on you, which means it is more likely to get lost. Finally, if a scanner were to fall into the wrong hands, the risk of data loss or abuse is low.
  • Cost. It’s more economical to acquire and operate a barcode scanner since it’s a single-purpose device. Even if you can spare the initial smartphone cost, the actual cost of ownership may rise due to the device’s durability issues. And since it doesn’t rely on cutting-edge technologies to function, a barcode scanner has a longer technological lifetime.
  • Overall performance. If speed is a critical factor, a wireless handheld scanner is a better option. While smartphones are designed to perform various tasks simultaneously, barcode scanners serve a specific purpose, making them quicker and, overall, more efficient.

Bottom Line

All in all, consumer smartphones can’t replace wireless barcode scanners just yet. Your phone probably works great with looking up product prices in the grocery store or renting a street bike. However, if your needs are more complex, a wireless barcode scanner is a more fitting choice.

If you’re on the hunt for high-end scanning devices, we recommend the Honeywell CT60 or the Getac T800. The Honeywell Dolphin CT60 is a small, durable portable device with a built-in Smart Scanner. The device effortlessly reads and captures data even in the most frantic work environments. Meanwhile, the Getacc T800 is a rugged tablet and intelligent scanner. It’s made to survive the harshest conditions, with an 8.1-inch HD touchscreen that’s glove-friendly.

5 Top Barcode Scanning Apps for Android

qr code android phone

Since there are many scanning apps available on Google Play, it can be hard to make your selection. It’s also worth noting that most apps come with advertisements and in-app transactions. Some may even require you to pay upfront. That being said, here are the top five best barcode scanning apps for Android:

  • QR and Barcode Scanner. The app can display Wi-Fi details, location info, and full product information, in addition to disclosing the code details. There’s also a nifty shopping component: When you check a commodity barcode, it shows you real-time online pricing from various retailers to help you make the best purchase.
  • Scan. This is a fantastic app that allows you to search any code in UPC, ISBN, or EAN format. If you use it when shopping, it shows you prices and ratings for a particular product. It’s worth noting that, due to hardware limitations on older Android devices, the app requires a newer generation model to operate efficiently. That being said, it’s still one of the most popular barcode scanning apps currently on the market.
  • Free QR Scanner. This is one of the most well-designed barcode scanning apps. It has a long list of features, including the ability to scan almost any form of regular 1D and 2D code. As the name suggests, it’s free to download, but it does display advertisements. On the other hand, there are no in-app purchases.
  • QRbot. It’s a barcode and QR code scanner that works with various formats, including Data Aztec, Matrix, EAN, UPC, and more. It even lets you store numbers on your phone by opening URLs, Wi-Fi codes, or contact details. The app uses Chrome Custom Tabs and Google Safe Browsing to ensure that your privacy is never jeopardized, even if you scan a malicious link.
  • ShopSavvy. As the name suggests, it’s primarily a shopping app used to scan label codes. You get a comprehensive list of product supplies and prices on all online shopping sites.

Find out More

handheld barcode scanning device DataLogic Joya Touch

When you run into a QR code in your everyday tasks, smartphone cameras are a great option to read them. There’s also a solid selection of barcode scanning apps available on Google Play. Both methods are relatively straightforward and allow for fast data collection.

Of course, if your line of work requires you to scan data with more efficiency, a dedicated mobile scanning device is the way to go. Not only does it perform better, but it’s also less costly and more secure. All in all, it’s a long-term investment you should consider.

If the impressive features of the Honeywell CT60 or the Getac T800 have piqued your interest or for more information on the best Android mobile scanning device for your business, contact Energy Electronics. Our sales reps would be happy to help with a custom recommendation and a fee quote for bulk purchases.