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Data Matrix vs QR Codes

data matrix and qr codes
✅ Learn what is the difference between QR codes and Data Matrix
✅ Find out which one is better for your business purposes

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data matrix and qr codes

A long time ago, the inventory industry came up with the ultimate solutions for better stock management. Data matrix and QR code have been used for decades and came a long way from simply serving product tracking functions.

Moreover, the way data matrix and QR codes are managed changed too. Nowadays, they are used for multiple marketing, promotion, and data management purposes and can be created by anyone for free.

Can you imagine?

Anyone with an internet connection can use a free QR code generator and make a QR code. Same with the data matrix. 

Nevertheless, there are still some differences between data matrix and QR code that we’re going to discuss today.

So, let’s start with defining what these two types of codes mean.

What is QR Code?

what is a qr code
This is a QR Code

QR code is a two-dimensional square-shaped code arranged in black and white pixels with a data capacity of up to 7,089 numeric and 4,296 alphanumeric characters. It has three squares on its corners that identify it as a QR code and allow to read the encoded data.

What is a Data Matrix?

what is a data matrix
this is a data matrix

Data matrix is also a 2D technology square-shaped code arranged in white and black modules. However, unlike QR codes, they can hold up only 3,116 numeric and 2,335 alphanumeric characters. The finder pattern of the data matrix is L-shaped that differs from the QR code.

Two 2D-technology codes look almost the same and share the same function. Could there be a difference?

Though data matrix and QR codes may seem similar at some point, there are a lot of differences between them. So, let’s review some.

Top 5 differences between Data Matrix and QR Codes

qr code vs data matrix what is the difference
Key differences between a QR Code and data matrix

#1 Readability

The readability of both types of code is defined by the error correction level or ECL. It is the percentage of the code that still can be read after the code was damaged. 

The percentage of the damage acceptable for the data matrix is 30%. For QR codes it ranges between 7-30%, depending on the amount of data stored. Despite that, the algorithm of the QR code scanners allows them to rebuild damaged parts of the code and read it correctly.

The size of the two-dimensional code is also important for readability. At this point, the data matrix also wins since it has high information density and can hold more data on a smaller piece of code. QR codes, correspondingly, have to be relatively large to be scanned.

However, they also have no size limit and can be as large as you want. Just high enough to be scanned from a distance. 

#2 Data range

The primary function of both data matrix and QR codes was to manage product information. However, QR codes moved far beyond product inventory management. 

While the data matrix redirects you to the product data only, QR codes can hold video, image, sound file, social media links, and many more types of data. Most often, QR codes are used to lead people to websites or events.

So, no wonder they are actively used for marketing and sales purposes, outrunning the data matrix. And that is why there are limitless QR code marketing possibilities for you. 

#3 Customization

Code customization is the point QR code wins in this data matrix vs QR code battle. So, as you may have guessed, there is nothing you can do with the data matrix code once it is generated. Since it generally holds up inventory data, there is no need to update it too often.

With the wide range of QR code generators, you can customize pretty much everything when it comes to QR code: colors, icons, edge sizes, etc. You can even choose their image format to download the QR code in and the material you print it on.

One more reason to use QR codes and make them recognizable, isn’t it?

#4 Market Capacity

As we’ve already mentioned, both types of code were created for product management purposes. Data matrix was first launched to label the small part of the automotive and aerospace industries. Nowadays, it continues to hold on to the same industrial function and is used to carry the information about manufacturer ID, unique serial number or part number, etc.

QR codes, on the other hand, are no longer used only for tracking large amounts of products in the supermarket or automobile parts. They mainly serve entertainment and marketing functions and are used by a wide range of industries like healthcare, tourism, charity, airports, and even churches. Besides, don’t be surprised to find plenty of different QR code business cards or wifi QR codes.

#5 Flexibility

Flexibility is the last but not least feature where QR code is the absolute winner. Each QR code comes with a short URL that is customizable and updatable. This enables you to edit data embedded in the code anytime you want. 

So, you can change the internal display page link, update the short URL or choose some other type of content to display. The flexibility makes a lot of vendors and marketers choose  QR codes over data matrix. 

And it’s no wonder. You don’t have to wonder how to make a QR code over and over again when you can just update the old one. QR codes provide you full control here.

Data Matrix vs QR Codes. Which one to Choose? (Conclusion)

There is no direct answer to the question of which code type is better to choose since it all depends on the industry and the purpose you need to create them for. 

Though data matrix and QR codes are quite similar, their functions differ. If you want to store more product data on a smaller piece of code, your choice should fall onto the data matrix. 

However, if your primary goal is to share a huge variety of data for marketing and eCommerce, there is no better option than QR codes. They allow you to share practically anything in different shapes and sizes.

So, which one would it be: data matrix or QR code?

Frequently asked questions

How to create a Data Matrix?

Use a Data Matrix generator tool or software. Add your data, customize settings if needed, and generate the code.

How to scan a Data Matrix?

A Data Matrix will not be scanned by your smartphone native camera app. Unlike a QR code, it needs a special app. Open a QR code scanning app on your smartphone, point the camera at the Data Matrix, and wait for the app to recognize and decode it.

What is the difference between Data Matrix and QR codes?

Data Matrix encodes data in a grid format, while QR codes use squares within squares. QR codes store more data and are more common in marketing.

Is Data Matrix or QR code better for large data?

For large data, QR codes are generally better due to their higher data capacity. Data Matrix codes are efficient for smaller data sets.

Where are Data Matrix codes used compared to QR codes?

Data Matrix codes are used in manufacturing and labeling for small parts. QR codes are more used in marketing, advertisements, and content sharing.

Are Data Matrix codes more secure than QR codes?

Data Matrix codes are considered more secure for encoding sensitive data due to their smaller size and denser data arrangement.

How do Data Matrix and QR codes differ in readability and scan speed?

Data Matrix codes are compact and often used in industrial settings, while QR codes are visually larger and scan faster for general use.

Which is more used in product packaging: Data Matrix or QR codes?

QR codes are more commonly used in product packaging for marketing and information sharing. Data Matrix codes are found in manufacturing and inventory tracking.

About the author

Siim Tiigimägi is the Content Lead at Pageloot. He writes about our innovative QR code generator services. With a profound expertise spanning over 5 years on QR codes, Siim is a subject matter expert in the field. He makes significant strides in leveraging QR technology to simplify and augment digital interactions.

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