QR codes have become ubiquitous in modern life. Whether you’re on a bus, in a store, or at an event, chances are you’ve seen someone using a QR code to access information or make a contactless payment.
Most businesses and individuals, however, are unaware that there are two types of QR codes, namely, Dynamic QR Code and Static QR Code.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between dynamic and static QR codes and compare them side-by-side. We’ll start by describing what dynamic and static QR codes are and then move to the benefits and drawbacks of dynamic QR Codes over static QR codes.
After that, we’ll evaluate which QR code is better and how to choose between the two. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about dynamic and static QR codes.
So put on your learning caps, and let’s begin!
QR codes are one of the most popular barcode symbologies. Refer to our article on types of barcodes to understand more about other barcode types and what QR codes are and how QR codes work for a deep dive into all things QR codes.
What is a Dynamic QR Code?
Dynamic QR codes are a type of QR code that allows users to modify the data encoded in it without having to go through the trouble of re-designing, re-printing, and re-deploying the QR barcode.
How Does a Dynamic QR Barcode Work?
Dynamic QR barcodes are embedded with a short URL instead of the actual information that is to be conveyed. This URL is stored on an online server, which points the users to a webpage or website containing the essential information related to the QR code.
So, when a user scans the dynamic QR code, they are redirected to a landing page (e.g., a website or app) where they can view and interact with the data associated with the QR code.
As the redirection URL is stored on an online server, the content associated with the dynamic QR code can be changed and updated whenever needed, making them highly versatile and convenient.
Check out our barcode 101 guide to learn about the basics and the working principle behind barcode technology.
What is a Static QR Code?
Static QR codes are the traditional type of QR barcode that, once generated, cannot be modified without re-creating, re-printing, and re-deploying the entire QR code. These codes are embedded with actual data to be conveyed to users and are not associated with any online server or website.
How Does a Static QR Barcode Work?
The working of a static QR barcode is quite simple.
As static QR codes are embedded with the actual data, when users scan the code, they immediately get to view and interact with the data stored in it. This data can include a URL to a website or app, contact information (e.g., name, address, and phone number), plain text messages, calendar events, instruction manuals, etc.
Static vs Dynamic QR Code - The Difference
At their core, both static and dynamic QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes composed of black and white squares and rectangles arranged in a matrix pattern. However, their main difference lies in how the code encodes data and how it is communicated to the users.
Check out our article on QR code vs barcode for a detailed comparison between QR codes and one-dimensional barcodes.
With static QR codes, the information encoded in the QR code itself remains fixed; once generated, it cannot be updated or changed. This makes them ideal for applications where a fixed code is needed, such as a product label or promotional material like brochures or flyers.
On the other hand, dynamic QR codes enable users to update the coded content without regenerating the code. This makes them suitable for applications where the content needs to be frequently updated, like in marketing campaigns, online advertisements, event promotions tracking and analytics, etc.
Apart from how they encode and convey data, there are other differences between static and dynamic QR codes. The table below lists the key differences between static and dynamic QR codes.
Static QR Codes
Dynamic QR Codes
Are not editable once created
Can be edited at any point in time
Does not offer QR scan tracking and analytics
Offers QR scan tracking and analytics
Are not suitable for online retargeting
Are suitable for online retargeting
Have a lengthy and complex URL
Have a short and simple URL
Are large and dense
Are small and less dense
Take a bit longer to scan and decode
Take less time to scan and decode
Cannot schedule redirects
Can schedule redirects
Can be read offline without requiring an active Internet connection
May require an active Internet connection for full usability
Advantages of Dynamic QR Codes Over Static QR Codes - A Detailed Look
Dynamic codes have many advantages over static codes. In this section, we will take a closer look at the benefits of dynamic QR codes over static QR codes.
Here is a list of 8 advantages of a dynamic QR code.
- More data storage capacity
- Faster scans
- Data modification and better reusability
- Data tracking and monitoring
- Connect offline and online marketing platforms
- Online retargeting
- Schedule and automate campaigns
- Advance security features
Increased Data Storage Capacity
QR codes have a limited capacity to encode data. A single QR code can store a maximum of 4296 alphanumeric characters, 7089 numeric characters, 2953 bytes of information, or 1817 Kanji characters.
The number of characters limits static QR codes as they are embedded with the actual data.
On the other hand, with dynamic codes, users can virtually bypass this space limitation as these codes do not store any actual data. Instead, they store a URL pointing to an online server or website where all the information related to the code is stored.
As a result, the QR code only holds the URL, whereas the data is stored on the server, giving users more flexibility with the amount and type of data they wish to store and share.
Another advantage of dynamic QR codes over static ones is that the former is much faster to scan than the latter.
QR codes encode data in black-and-white modules arranged in a matrix pattern. Each module in this matrix pattern encodes a specific piece of data. When scanned, the scanner identifies these data-encoding modules and reads out the data encoded in them.
Check out our article on Data Matrix code VS QR code for a detailed comparison between the two barcode symbologies.
Static QRs carry a large amount of data within themselves and are highly dense with modules. This causes scanners to take longer to read the code and decode the data.
On the other hand, dynamic QR codes contain only a URL which is comparatively much smaller in size. As a result, dynamic QR codes are less dense, allowing scanners to read the code and decode the data quickly.
Please note that the scanning speed of dynamic and static QR codes varies from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the amount and complexity of the encoded information. Moreover, the speed also depends on factors such as the size and quality of the code, light intensity, barcode damage, and the scanning device used.
Triton provides a complete barcoding solution through a range of barcode scanners. We offer mobile terminals, general barcode scanners, rugged barcode scanners, and fixed scanners & sensors at extremely competitive prices.
On-Demand Data Modification and Better Reusability
Dynamic QR codes offer the flexibility to change the content encoded in them whenever needed. Therefore, if there are any typographical errors or changes in the content, the users don’t have to go through the trouble of re-creating and deploying the code.
Additionally, with the ability to quickly modify the data, dynamic code owners can use the same QR code in different campaigns or locations for maximum exposure and brand recognition. This feature makes dynamic codes extremely useful for marketing campaigns and promotional activities where information needs to be updated regularly.
Real-Time Monitoring and Analytics
Dynamic QR codes offer businesses the ability to track and monitor user interaction with the code in real-time. Dynamic QRs allow businesses to collect valuable data points such as the number of scans, scan frequency, geolocation information, time stamps, page dwell time, devices used for scanning, and more.
Such detailed tracking data allows businesses to get insight into user behaviour and help determine their effectiveness and success rate. Additionally, this data helps them to fine-tune the existing marketing strategies, optimize future campaigns, and measure ROI on marketing efforts involving dynamic QR codes.
Dynamic QR codes can also be connected to analytics tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics to give more comprehensive insights about the target audience. These tools provide demographic data such as age, gender, and location of the customers, which help businesses better understand their customer base.
Link Offline and Online Marketing Channels
Dynamic QR codes bridge the gap between offline and online marketing channels.
Dynamic QR codes can be placed on printed materials like flyers, posters, magazines, and billboards in digital formats like television commercials, email campaigns, and social media posts.
When scanned, the code will take users to a landing page or any other digital asset, helping businesses amplify their digital reach and maximize their customer base.
Dynamic QR codes can be used to generate leads by running online retargeting campaigns.
Businesses can set up automated surveys or forms and have users submit their information, such as name, email address, and contact number, in exchange for discounts, freebies, coupons, etc. They can also use online services such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads to target potential users and show them relevant texts or visual ads based on their previous interactions with the code.
Schedule and Automate Campaigns
Dynamic QR codes allow users to set up an automated workflow that will automatically trigger the code to update or launch the content at the scheduled date and time. This eliminates the need for manual intervention and helps in saving time and resources.
Moreover, these codes can have an expiry date and time associated with them, which will deactivate the code once the time limit is reached. This feature is especially useful for a promotional & marketing campaign or promotions with a limited validity period.
Robust Security Features
Dynamic QR codes provide a much higher level of security than static codes.
Dynamic QR codes prevent fraud and unauthorized access by providing advanced authentication techniques such as password protection, two-factor authentication, and time-limited access.
Disadvantages of Dynamic QR Codes Over Static QR Codes
Besides having eight major advantages, dynamic QR codes also have some drawbacks that need to be considered before implementing them.
Unlike static QR codes, dynamic QR codes are not free to generate and use.
Users must pay for the hosting and other services to manage and create dynamic QR codes. The payment frequency (one-time or subscription) and the amount will depend on the chosen service provider.
Moreover, some dynamic QR code providers may increase prices depending on the number of impressions or scans of the QR code.
Only Encodes URLs
Dynamic QR codes only encode URLs and are unsuitable for encoding other data types.
If users want to encode more than just a URL, they need to use statically generated QR codes that encode different data types, such as images, contact information, text files, etc.
Prone to Hacks
Dynamic QR codes are stored on online servers, which are vulnerable to cyber-attacks or data thefts. Therefore, if not appropriately secured, dynamic QR codes will be attacked by malicious entities that can redirect users to fraudulent websites or compromise user data.
Requires an Active Internet Connection
As a dynamic QR code redirects a user to an online landing page, it requires a stable and active Internet connection to display the content properly.
If there is no Internet connection or if the connection is weak, then users will face difficulties in accessing the website or the content associated with the QR code. This is a major issue if users are in remote areas with limited or no access to the Internet.
Dynamic QR Code vs Static QR Code - Which is Better? And How to Choose?
Dynamic QR codes and static QR codes have their advantages and disadvantages.
Dynamic QR codes offer more features, such as real-time analytics, content editability, automated workflow, and enhanced security but come with an additional cost. In comparison, static QR codes are free to generate and use but lack the features offered by dynamic QR codes.
So, when it comes down to the question of which one is better – Static QR or Dynamic QR, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best QR barcode type depends on the type of application, user requirements, and user expectations.
If users want to take advantage of all the features offered by dynamic QR codes and are willing to pay for them, then QR codes should be their go-to choice. Whereas, if users do not need advanced features like analytics or content edit ability or only have a limited budget, then static QR codes are the better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do You Tell if a QR Code is Static or Dynamic?
There are two basic approaches to determining if a QR code is static or dynamic.
As static QRs hold more data characters than dynamic QRs, they differ in appearance in the following two ways.
- Static QRs are usually bigger in size.
- Static QRs have a denser data pattern.
Upon scanning, if a QR has a short redirection URL encoded in it, then it is a dynamic QR code.
On the other hand, if it holds a long string of data or other types of information (e.g. images, contact info, text files), then it is a static QR code.
Is a Static QR Code Permanent?
Yes, static QR codes are permanent. Once generated, the content encoded cannot be edited or updated. Furthermore, when scanned static QR codes always display the same content.
Can Static QR Codes be Hacked?
No, static QR codes cannot be hacked. This is because static QR codes store data locally, and their content is not editable. Therefore, there is no way for malicious entities to take control of the content or redirect users to malicious websites.
However, if someone replaces the physical QR code with another QR code, then it will pose a security risk.
Do Static QR Codes Have a Scan Limit?
No, static QR codes have no scan limit. This means that users can scan the same code multiple times without limitations.
Do Dynamic QR Codes Have a Scan Limit?
Yes, dynamic QR codes may have scan limits. The scan limit of the code will depend upon the type of subscription plan chosen by the user.
Can a Static QR Code be Deactivated?
No, static QR codes cannot be deactivated.
QR code deactivation is a feature of dynamic QR codes.
Do Static QR Codes Expire?
No, static QR codes do not expire. They are permanent and can be scanned multiple times without any limitations.
A static QR code will stop functioning if it is physically damaged, disrupting the alignment and pattern of the code itself.
Do Dynamic QR Codes Expire?
Dynamic QR codes do not have a predetermined expiry date. However, they can be set to expire at a specific date and time.
However, dynamic QRs will stop working if the user stops or cancels the subscription plan and/or exceeds the QR code scan limit.
Can I Make a Dynamic QR Code Static or Visa Versa?
No, it is impossible to change a dynamic QR code into a static QR code or vice versa, as both codes have different data encoding qualities.
Is a Dynamic QR Code Free?
No, dynamic QR codes are not free.
Users need to subscribe to a service provider to manage and create QR codes. The cost of a dynamic QR code will depend on the features and the chosen service provider.
However, there are a few QR code generator that offers free dynamic QRs but with restrictions such as limited scan limits, no analytics, and no content edit ability.
Can I Change the Destination of a QR Code After Printing?
Yes, you can change the destination of a QR code only if the printed QR code is dynamic.
The Bottom Line
QR codes have come a long way since their inception in 1994. Initially, they used to be static and could only display the same content repeatedly. But as technology evolved, dynamic QR codes were introduced, giving users more flexibility and control.
To sum up, both dynamic and static QR codes have advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on the use case when deciding which is better suitable for one’s needs. Once decide which QR code type to use, the next big step is to get the code printed and start using it.
Thermal printers are the most effective printing devices for printing crisp, high-quality legible QR codes. At Triton, we offer a complete range of thermal printers from top brands such as Honeywell, Zebra, and TSC.
From desktop printers to industrial-grade thermal printers, we have a solution for all your printing needs. We also provide a wide range of printer accessories and consumables to support your thermal printer.
Well, that’s not all – Triton also provides a barcode label design and print software called BarTender at an incredibly discounted rate. We offer four versions of BarTender, namely,
So why wait? Contact us today via the live chat widget below to learn more about our thermal printers and barcoding solutions.