barcode scanner
SCANNING

Which barcode scanners can scan phone screens?

Author Vince
Vince Cheney April 16, 2019

Use 2D Imager Barcode Scanners to scan barcodes on mobile devices

There are many makes and models of barcode scanners on the market. Each type of barcode scanner has limits to what kinds of barcodes it can scan  While the low price point of laser scanners may be attractive, do not buy a laser scanner if you need to scan a barcode off of a mobile phone screen. Laser scanners cannot scan the screen of a mobile device, smart watch, or flat screen TV. In addition, laser scanners cannot scan 2D barcodes or QR codes at all. For these reasons, we recommend using 2D imaging barcode scanners.

Why won’t laser scanners work scanning barcodes in mobile apps?

Laser scanners emit light when they scan because the laser light must be reflected back in order to read the barcode. 1D barcodes are composed of black and white bars where the space between the black and white bars define the value.  Laser scanners cannot scan barcodes displayed on phone screens because light is not reflected back. Mobile phones have anti-reflection technology to prevent glare and they are constantly emitting their own light from their LCD screens.

Laser scanners also cannot read 2D barcodes, like QR codes, because of the way they’re created. QR codes are created in squares, with colored square dots indicating characters. 2D barcodes can be complex and contain lots of information, while 1D barcodes are simple and limited to a specific number of characters.

What makes 2D imaging scanners better?

2D imaging scanners can read both 1D and 2D barcodes. Most importantly for use with the ID123 app, these scanners can read barcodes displayed on phone screens. 2D imaging scanners come in a lot of varieties. There are types that look and function like the more traditional point and shoot laser scanners, with a laser still used for aiming. Some 2D imagers are hands-free and installed in locations or scan kiosks.

There are also 2D imagers that are handheld mobile computers. It’s important to know where your scanner will be placed and who is doing the scanning to know what kind of scanner should be purchased.

What is the cost of a 2D imaging scanner?

2D imagers have a wide range of prices, but usually, cost more than laser scanners. Various brands of imager scanners can be found on online marketplaces like Amazon beginning at $40, but can reach up to hundreds of dollars. The more expensive scanners are usually “rugged” type scanners from reputable high-end brands like Zebra and Honeywell.

Rugged scanners are for use cases that require field work or scanning in rough locations. They are priced higher because of this, but an expensive rugged scanner is not necessary for most use cases. Cheaper handheld 2D imager scanners and scanning accessories that plug into PCs may be sufficient for most use cases.

Can I use another mobile device as a 2D imaging scanner?

The mobile app called codeREADr offers this service. The CodeREADr app is a mobile application that turns phone or tablet into powerful 2D imaging scanner. The application allows enterprises to create custom scanning workflows on their cloud-based platform. Read more about CodeREADR here.

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