Data Matrix Code vs QR Code: What is the Difference?

Update:  August 13, 2023
Data Matrix Code vs QR Code: What is the Difference?

Two-dimensional codes are relevant today to speed up information dissemination.

The most common you can find are QR codes; from packaging to marketing materials, they have made an appearance.

Technology has also gotten more accessible, allowing almost anybody to generate them.

However, they are not the only available and accessible type of two-dimensional code.

Another that looks closely similar is data matrix codes.

In different industries and fields, they have widespread use and application.

How to Differentiate a QR Code vs Data Matrix

QR code vs data matrix

At first look, the two types of two-dimensional codes are hard to differentiate.

In general, they are pixels packed inside a square.

However, despite the similar appearances, a reader for one doesn’t necessarily work as a reader for the other.

The reason is that upon closer inspection, the two are actually quite different in appearance, and it is because of the technology they implement.

QR codes have three bigger squares on their corners, and these serve as their finder pattern.

It is what enables the code to be identified and have its embedded data read.

On the other hand, a data matrix code uses an L-shaped solid black border as its finder pattern.

Data Matrix Code vs QR Code Function

QR code

When comparing a 2D data matrix vs QR code in terms of functionality, there is no difference.

They are both two-dimensional scannable images used to hold alphanumeric information.

In certain applications, the two technologies can be used interchangeably.

However, there are aspects wherein data matrix codes shine over QR codes and vice versa because each has unique features that make them stand out.

In the general market, QR codes are much more preferred because of their capacity to hold more information.

You can store 7,089 numeric or 4,296 alphanumeric characters with compatibility with Kanji/kana characters.

On the other hand, data matrix codes have a maximum data capacity of 3,116 numeric or 2,335 alphanumeric characters.

There is also no compatibility with other types of characters which significantly narrows down its flexibility.

Though, despite being able to store more, QR codes need to come in a much larger physical size.

Compare this to data matrix codes that have higher information density, allowing them to be printed at extremely small sizes.

As a matter of fact, data matrix codes can be printed as small as a few millimeters.

Making them ideal for tracking small products, such as computer parts and motherboards, or on rounded surfaces.

Generally, the data matrix code vs QR code battle in terms of functionality ends with data matrix codes having more industrial applications while QR codes dominate the general and consumer market.

QR Code vs Data Matrix: Readability

Other than the physical size, the two-dimensional codes also differ in terms of readability.

Since data matrix codes are more intended for industrial use, they have a higher tolerance for damage and other physical changes.

What this means is that despite getting damaged or color changes, the chances of a data matrix code functioning as intended are still high.

The feature of a code to function despite damage is called the error correction level.

Algorithms allow code readers to recreate and fill up the damaged portion of a code, allowing it to be still read properly.

For data matrix codes, the damage percentage that it can tolerate is 30%. QR codes have between 7–30%, depending on the size of the information stored.

However, that is not the only aspect of readability that is present with two-dimensional codes.

There is also a minimum contrast requirement between the shade of the darker and lighter pixels.

For QR codes, that is 40%. So, in order for it to be read properly, it must be printed with colors that are 40% contrasting with each other.

Data matrix codes are more flexible, only requiring 20% contrast.

This means that pixels can be almost the same color.

Therefore, the code isn’t dependent on the colors that it is printed with. Instead, it can be etched on a green motherboard and still be read properly by a scanner.

QR code vs Data Matrix: Size

Now, let’s differentiate the size of a 2D data matrix vs a QR code.

For the size, we have to emphasize that the bigger the size of the code, the more information can be stored in it. Its size is determined by the number of cells in it.

In terms of the increments, different versions of the code exist.

The difference between each version is the number of cells by which the code is incremented.

Take note that a data matrix code has 2 cells, while a QR code has 4 cells.

For the minimum size of the data matrix, it has 10×10 cells, while a QR code has 21×21 cells.

Then the maximum size of a data matrix code, it has 144x144cells while a QR code has 177×177 cells.

Data Matrix Code Generator

While data matrix codes are mostly used in the industrial sector, generators are easily and readily accessible. A simple search on the internet will give you a number of choices to choose from.

The best part is that they are also not difficult to use. It is as simple as a few clicks of a button.

In general, using data matrix generators can be simplified into four steps:

1. Choose the content type you want to embed the code with.

Depending on the generator, you have different choices to choose from. Some only allow for alphanumeric information, while others give you the option for URL, phone number, and SMS.

2. Input the necessary information required based on the type of content you chose.

3. Choose data matrix code size. Depending on the generator, you either get to choose the total number of pixels or vague options like small, medium, and large.

4. Generate data matrix code and print on your desired surfaces.

While there may be options for data matrix code generators, they aren’t all that competitive.

They have limited functionalities, and your options are quite narrow when compared to QR code generators.

The reason mainly is the lack of commercial use, which hinders developers from putting up the effort.

QR Code Generator: Where to Find and How to Use?

Using QR code generators is no different than that of data matrix ones. It is as easy as a few clicks of a button.

You can easily find a lot of generators with a simple search on the internet, like QR TIGER QR code generator

Generators from different developers can either have small or huge differences.

It can be as simple as design options to have a wide array of QR code types that you can generate.

Therefore, it is important to choose the best generator that fits your needs.

In the event you finally do, the process of using one can be simplified into four steps:

1. Go to QR TIGER dynamic QR code generator online and choose the type of QR code you want to create.

Depending on the generator, you have options for social media, URL, file, multilink, app store, and virtual business cards, among others.

2. Input the information required based on the type of QR code you are going to generate.

3. Choose between dynamic or static and then create your code.

4. Depending on your generator, you have a fourth step which is applying available personalization elements.

Unlike data matrix generators, QR code generators are more catered to the consumer market. So, you get a lot of flexibility and practical choices.

QR Codes: Static vs Dynamic

One area in that data matrix codes that cannot compete with QR codes is its two variations.

While the basic type, static, is as straightforward as it can be.

It is a whole new different story with dynamic QR codes.

They give the user the option to track the performance of the QR code, such as when and where a scan has been made, how many times, and the device used.

It also allows for QR codes to have updatable and variable content. So, if there is a need to change the data embedded in the code, it is possible.

It is also an option to have a QR code function differently based on location, time of the day, and how many times it has been scanned.

Related: Static vs Dynamic QR Code: Their Pros and Cons

How to Scan Data Matrix Code

Scanning data matrix codes are just like scanning any two-dimensional code.

You can use it with specialized scanning devices or your mobile phone.

The latter can be a little tricky compared to the former, but still, it is as simple as pointing your smartphone camera.

The entire general procedure can be compressed into only two steps.

1. Download and install a third-party data matrix code scanning app on your smartphone. Since data matrix codes do not have widespread commercial use, phones do not have the built-in capability to read them.

2. Open the app and point your smartphone camera to the QR code.

Once it is identified, it will display the information embedded in it.

How to Scan or Read a QR Code

Scanning QR codes are a lot simpler compared to data matrix codes.

Not that the latter is difficult, but because there are more options and compatibility with QR code readers.

Searching the app store for third-party scanners will result in a multitude of choices.

That is considering if your smartphone device doesn’t already have a built-in QR code scanning feature which most modern ones already have.

Generally, the entire process of scanning a QR code is as follows.

1. Open your scanning app. If your camera has a built-in QR reading feature, open that instead.

2. Point your smartphone to the QR code, and it will immediately display the information embedded in it.

2D data matrix vs QR code: Which is better?

Because the two kinds of codes are similar, people are always asking which one is better.

However, it is the wrong question to be asked when talking about data matrix code vs QR code.

Each of them shines in their intended purpose.

Instead, you should be asking when one should be used over the other.

For commercial, personal, and everyday use, QR codes have taken the lead in the game.

They have found application in almost every aspect of general day-to-day activities.

It is even already considered a core marketing element.

On the other hand, industrial usage dictates that data matrix codes have more suitable features and functionalities.

So, at the end of the day, it will depend on your needs.

However, both technologies are useful and can go hand-in-hand.

PDF ViewerMenu Tiger