One of the reasons QR codes stand out is because of the amount of QR code data size or information they can store.
Unlike barcodes that can only store 20 characters, QR codes hold significantly more than that.
This makes QR codes convenient to be used in different applications with almost no foreseeable limits.
So, how far can you really push a QR code?
How Much Data Can a QR Code Hold?
QR codes are slowly replacing various things in everyday lives. One area that technology has made a strong mark on is digital payments.
With a scan of a QR code, one can make direct and contactless payments without much hassle.
More interestingly, QR codes have been used in areas people would have never thought would be ideal like marketing.
If you look at the packaging of different products, you get to see QR codes generated using the best QR code generator, which are implemented in different ways when scanned.
It either brings you to the social media of the brand or provides you with more necessary information.
There is a reason for all of these and that is with the flexibility that the technology brings. With how it is used in everyday applications, there is no foreseeable situation that will force it beyond its limits.
No matter which website the QR code redirects to and what specific purpose it does, it is bound to hold the information and perform the functionality that is required of it.
It is able to do so because a QR code has a maximum symbol size of 177x177 modules. So, it can have as much as 31,329 squares which can encode 3KB of data.
That translates to a QR code data size of a total of 7,089 numeric characters or 4,269 alphanumeric ones.
Since the technology is developed by Japanese engineer Hara Masahiro, it also has compatibility for Kanji/Kana characters, being able to hold 1,817 characters.
Is that Enough Information?
While 3KB of data doesn’t sound much, it is enough to get a lot of things done. A QR code doesn’t necessarily need to have a QR code data size in the range of megabytes or gigabytes.
For the applications, they are being used and the information they store, 3KB is already too much.
To put this into perspective, the main role of QR codes is to direct scanners to a destination link. An average website URL is composed of 40 to 50 characters.
If you are looking at the most characters that there could possibly be, it rarely goes beyond 100 characters. Therefore, the 4,269 alphanumeric QR code data size limit is considered excessive.
Other QR Code Spec
While the maximum QR code data size is what made it stand out, there are also other features that make it a very commercial type of technology.
1. 360-degree Scanning
The great thing about two-dimension codes is that they can be scanned in any orientation.
Whether it is upside down or at an angle, a QR code will be read by a scanner perfectly and without error.
This saves time when there is the need to scan a number of items. Also, it minimizes the chances of errors and other unwanted outcomes.
2. Error Correction
A QR code created from the best QR code generator is resilient and flexible, allowing it to be placed in various locations without having to worry too much about it.
It can be placed on magazines, flyers, and posters.
Locations that are prone to creases, damage, and tampering.
Yet, a QR code will still be able to perform its intended purpose because of its error correction capability.
Error correction is the capacity of a QR code reader to reconstruct damaged or missing information on a QR code.
It is able to do this because a QR code is a pattern that can be easily recreated with an algorithm.
At most, a QR code can be damaged by 30% and it still can be scanned properly without any error.
However, this is limited to QR codes with a lower number of squares or QR code data size.
When a QR code comes in the full 177x177 module, it has an error correction capacity of only 7%.
However, on average, most QR codes that are generated are within the level that allows for 15% damage.
Whether it may be a scratch, missing data from a rip, stain, or a mark, a QR code can still be scanned perfectly fine.
It is not a fragile image that can fail unexpectedly, making it quite reliable.
A QR code is composed of two colors, one for the black pixels and the other for the white ones. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to come in only these two shades.
QR codes can be printed with different colors because it is able to allow for 20% contrast.
What this means is that as long as the two colors have 20% contrast, the QR code will be completely functional.
However, the feature doesn’t just allow for personalization options, but it also makes for a reliable QR code as well.
Different print mediums such as flyers and posters tend to discolor through time as it gets exposed to the elements. Despite the change in colors, the QR code will still be able to function as it is intended.
4. Scannable from Any Distance
Unlike barcodes that need to be scanned at a close range, QR codes can be read no matter how far it is. So, the image doesn’t necessarily have to be directly in front of the camera.
One can stand a certain distance while scanning a QR code poster or the likes.
As a result, QR codes can be placed almost anywhere without question on whether or not they can be accessed by scanners.
It can be placed on flyers and magazines which people have immediate and direct access to but as well as posters, stickers, and even on the screens of any device.
Static and Dynamic QR Code Data Size
There are two types of QR codes: static and dynamic. They both look the same but are differentiated by the features that come with them.
Static has fixed embedded data so that when they are printed, there is no way for them to be updated.
On the other hand, dynamic QR codes can be updated anytime. In the event that you need to replace the function of your QR code, you don’t necessarily have to reprint them.
Instead, just update from the comfort of your computer. Furthermore, this interchangeable content allows for variability.
Creators have the option to have a QR code function differently based on the time of the day, location, or how many times it has been scanned.
There is also the feature to track the performance of a QR code such as the total number of scans, when and where a scan has been made, and the device used.
Generally, a dynamic QR code is able to do a lot more than a static QR code. So, it begs the question, does it hold more information than the other?
A QR code data size is fixed all throughout, regardless of being a static or dynamic QR code. It is because both types of QR codes are physically the same. Therefore, they have the same maximum number of modules.
QR Code Data Size vs Data Matrix Code
QR codes are not the only two-dimensional code currently available. Another one that is also widely used is a data matrix code.
At first glance, it looks the same since it is a bunch of pixels packed inside a square. However, upon closer inspection, there are key differences that set the physical limitations of the two.
The three bigger squares on each corner of a QR code are the alignment pattern. For a data matrix code, that comes in the form of an L-shaped solid black border.
These differences are also what sets the limitations, because of the number of modules each is able to accommodate.
A QR code data size limit is 7,089 numeric characters, but for a data matrix, it is only 3,116 characters. When talking about alphanumeric characters, the data matrix trails behind 2,335 characters with no support for other types of language.
As a result, QR codes come out as a superior alternative when the data size limit is in question. In turn, a data matrix doesn’t have the same extensive flexibility that QR codes provide.
A QR code has the capacity to hold more than enough information that is needed. It is able to perform a wide array of applications in the daily lives of people and still leaves a lot of room for more innovation.
As of the moment, with how QR codes are being used, there is no foreseeable application that will force it to utilize every last character needed from it.
While there may be other alternatives to QR codes like a barcode and a data matrix code, none of them beats the QR code data size.
Therefore, it still maintains its position to be one of the most commonly used and preferred two-dimensional codes for commercial applications. And there is no sight of anything else to take its place in the near future.
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QR code limit size
To make your QR code scannable at short distances, make sure it is at least 1.2 inches (3-4 cm) in dimension.
For QR codes on business cards, it can be at least 0.8 x 0.8 inches.
For long-distance QR codes such as in billboards, vehicles, window store, and banners, it should be larger than usual. For instance, if a QR code has to be scanned 20 meters away, its size would be around 2 meters.
Max QR code size
The maximum QR code size would depend on where you will display your QR code. Consider first the medium you're using and the convenience of your potential scanners.