Aztec Barcode vs QR Code: Why QR Codes Are the Best Pick

Update:  August 18, 2023
Aztec Barcode vs QR Code: Why QR Codes Are the Best Pick

Aztec barcode vs QR code? At a glance, they look almost identical: square, pixelated, black, and white. But their differences can be narrowed down by zooming into their features and functions.

How are they used? In what industries are they applicable? What are each code’s features? 

And which one is the better choice for your digital campaign?

This article introduces an extensive comparative guide between Aztec barcodes and QR codes.

We compared the two prominent barcodes to help you choose which is better for your online marketing campaigns.

What is a QR code? History, structure, and function

QR code history

A Quick Response (QR) code is a 2D barcode developed in 1994 by Masahiro Hara of Denso Wave, a Japanese barcode maker.

The two-dimensional barcode was created to help manufacturers streamline Japan’s product inventory management system.

It became an alternative to the one-dimensional barcodes previously used along with the POS system.

QR codes cut out the manual labor of tracking product items, making them the perfect tool for the job.

It can store information accessible to audiences by scanning the code using a specialized QR code scanner or a smartphone device.

What is an Aztec barcode, and how does it work?

Aztec barcode

Similarly, the Aztec barcode also uses 2D barcode technology. Invented by Andrew Longrace, Jr. and Robert Hussey in 1995, the barcode was then published by AIM, Inc. in 1997.

And just like any other dimensional code, an Aztec code can store alphanumeric information accessible when scanned by a laser barcode scanner.

Now you might know why it’s called an Aztec code, but what is the difference between the two? Read on to learn more.

Aztec barcode vs QR code: Comparing visuals and functions

Sure, Aztec barcodes and QR codes look almost too similar. But once examined closely, you’ll see that both barcodes differ.

Here’s how you can determine whether the barcode is an Aztec or a QR:


Aztec barcode vs QR code

One of the QR code’s distinctive features is the three squares at its corners, also known as the position patterns.

But why do they have to be squared? You may ask.

Masahiro Hara says squares are least likely to be used in different business forms. This strategy is employed to avoid errors in scanning the code since the unique square patterns make the QR code easy to detect by the scanners.

The square patterns are also why QR codes require a quiet zone for better scannability.

A quiet zone is a blank space at the borders of a QR code. It separates the QR code from other elements in the material where it is deployed.

Moreover, the QR code was designed following the 1:1:3:1:1 ratio to make reading even more convenient.

But why? You may ask again.

The 1:1:3:1:1 ratio enables the QR code to be scannable at any angle. This means that whether you scan the code horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, the codes will still redirect you to a specific landing page faster.

On the other hand, Aztec barcodes have a square-shaped finder pattern located at their center, hence its namesake. It resembles the ancient Aztec pyramid from a bird’s eye view. 

So here comes a comparison between data matrix vs QR code readability for users.

Data, most commonly texts, are encoded on the pixels surrounding the square finder pattern.

And depending on the length of the alphanumeric characters embedded in the barcode, Aztec codes may display a dense volume of pixels.

But usually, Aztec codes are more pixelated than other barcodes because of their capacity to store more data.

They can hold up to 151×151 pixels which may surround the square finder patterns in layers of modules.


QR code function

QR codes store information that can only be accessed if scanned with a specialized QR code scanner, a built-in QR code scanner on phones, or a third-party QR code scanner app.

You can store data like URLs, documents, spreadsheets, images, videos, audio, and the like.

Integrating this digital tool makes it easier for you to disseminate digital information to the target audience.

Today, QR codes are widely used in different industries but mainly benefit business-related campaigns.

And just like every other barcode, Aztec codes also store alphanumeric characters. Users can access the embedded information by using a laser barcode scanner.

You can use an Aztec barcode generator to create one. You can embed information such as texts, contact details, URLs, and the like.

Frequently, these types of codes adorn government documents, transport ticketing systems, medical documents, or other files that can only be accessible by an authority with a specialized barcode scanner.

Aztec barcode vs. QR code: Which is better?

Indeed, QR codes and Aztec barcodes are more than just a set of random squares and pixels.

They are now the storage and portal of offline to online campaigns for any type of business or institution.

But which works better for your digital needs?

Here’s how Aztec barcode stacks up to QR codes when it comes to their features:

Readability: how fast can scanners read the codes?

Code readability

Two-dimensional barcodes have an error-correction capacity to guarantee their scannability. This means that both QR codes and Aztec barcodes contain an error-correction technology.

This barcode feature allows both codes easily scannable even with a detected error.

But because of the strategic placement of the finder pattern at the center, an Aztec barcode is way easier to read than a QR code.

The user must only direct the laser barcode scanner at the center of the Aztec code to read its content.

When generating one, you can customize an Aztec barcode’s error correction level, which may range from 5% to 95%.

However, experts recommend starting at a minimum of 23% for more accurate and faster code scanning.

On the other hand, QR codes require scanners to include all four corners to read the embedded information successfully.

The three finder patterns need to be within the frame of the QR code scanner display.

Nonetheless, because of the two-dimensional barcode features, both the Aztec barcode and QR code takes only a few seconds to redirect you to landing pages.

The difference in their readability isn’t that far apart.

Customizability: can you personalize the codes?

Customized QR codes

You definitely can. Especially easy-to-customize QR codes.

The growing QR code usage increased the number of software that allows users to customize the codes however they want.

You can add creative touches to this tech-savvy tool using the most advanced QR code generator.

You can select creative finder pattern options, choose the pixels’ shapes, change the color scheme, add a call-to-action and a frame, include a logo, or even make a round QR code.

You can even resize them and download the code using many file formats.

Conversely, due to less available software, Aztec barcodes may not be as creative-looking as QR codes.

Barcode generators provide customization options such as resizing, changing the colors, opting for a white-on-black code, and a selection of downloadable file formats.

However, they are not as comprehensive as those of QR code software.

A QR code opens you to a visually pleasing digital tool proven to be the best for any digital campaign.

Storing capacity: how many alphanumeric characters can you store?

QR code storage capacity

Aztec barcodes can store 3067 alphanumeric characters, 3832 numeric characters, and a 1914 bytes capacity.

This may be enough for some industries or users.

But a QR code is best for those who need a bigger storage capacity.

QR codes can store 4269 alpha characters and 7089 numeric. Plus, you can embed files such as documents, images, MP3, and videos, which an Aztec barcode generator does not offer.

For large-scale digital campaigns, the QR code is the people’s choice. 

Its storage capacity provides you with unlimited benefits.

Even better, the best QR code generator allows you to track your QR code campaigns from the number of scans, location, demographics, and so much more.

Applicability: how are Aztec barcodes vs QR codes used today?

QR code vs aztec applications

Railway online ticketing system deploys Aztec barcodes in their printable tickets.

Hospitals use Aztec codes on patient bracelets to store extensive patient information.

Tax systems also use these barcodes on documents so taxation officers can quickly validate them.

This variety of 2D barcodes is often displayed on customers’ phones or documents, allowing an authority to scan and access the information embedded.

So, generally, an Aztec barcode is commonly used in some government-run industries.

On the other hand, business and marketing companies from all over the world widely use QR codes.

Digital marketers use QR codes to increase website traffic, expand their network, improve social media presence, enhance customer experience, and promote their events, products, and services.

That is why QR codes are a mobile-optimized tool because you will let your customers or clients scan the code and access the stored information using their phones.

Furthermore, you can also place them wherever you like.

Want to add them to your printed materials? Sure.

Want to reveal them on a TV show or video advertisement? Go ahead.

Want to engrave them on pieces of jewelry? Be as creative as you can be.

There are almost no boundaries to the functionality of QR codes.

Editability: can you edit the embedded content?

The contents embedded in an Aztec barcode are not editable.

So, if an embedded text is misspelled, a URL has stopped working, or contact information needs to be updated, you will have to generate a new Aztec barcode.

In contrast, a dynamic QR code allows you to edit the embedded content and redirect it to other information.

It comes with valuable features that you will need for any form of digitalized campaign.

You can easily edit, update, or remove any content stored in a QR code.

Traceability: can you track the data scans?

A dynamic QR code’s activities are easy to track. 

With an advanced QR code generator, users will be provided with every QR code campaign’s analytics to keep tabs on their campaigns conveniently.

You will see data such as the total number of scans, the location from where your QR codes are scanned, the OS of the device used in scanning, and the time of scanning.

The data scans allow users like you to operate seamlessly with your digital campaigns, whether for marketing, information sharing, or networking.

On the flip side, Aztec barcodes don’t have this technology.

Infographic of QR code vs. Aztec barcode: Which is better for your digital campaign


If you're still undecided in choosing between aztec code vs QR code, here are some key points you should remember. 

Aztec barcodes may store loads of information and can be scanned faster, but QR codes clarified why they are the best bet.

You can employ them anywhere you like, may it be digital or physical materials. You can integrate details such as URLs or files.

You’ll get access to dashboards, analytics, and a wide range of QR code solutions.

Whatever your digital campaigns are, QR codes have got you covered with their updated features and easy-to-use QR code generator software.

Make sure you’re choosing the best one for your business.

Check out the best QR code generator online and see more advanced features that you can use for your QR code campaigns.

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