How to Scan a QR Code on iPhone or Android

The iPhone and Android camera apps have a built-in QR reader

What to Know

  • iPhone (iOS 11 or later): Launch the Camera app, frame the QR code, and tap the notification.
  • Android 8 or later: Launch the Camera app, frame the QR code, and tap the notification.
  • On older Android devices, you'll need to download a third-party app, such as QR Code Reader.

This article explains how to scan a QR (Quick Response) code on an iPhone or Android device. Some smartphones may require that you download a mobile app, and we recommend a few options below.

How to Scan a QR Code With an iPhone Running iOS 11 or Later

An iPhone with iOS 11 (or later) comes with a built-in QR reader in its camera. To scan a QR code with an iPhone camera, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Camera app.

  2. Frame the QR code.

    QR code ios 11
  3. Look for the notification banner at the top of the screen.

  4. Tap the notification to trigger the code's action.

How to Scan QR Codes With iOS 10 or Earlier

Smartphones with iOS 10 or earlier can scan many types of QR codes using the Wallet app, which stores event tickets, boarding passes, coupons, and loyalty cards.

The Wallet app can't read every QR code, though; only items it recognizes as passes, like the examples above. For a one-stop QR reader, you'll need a third-party app. 

Best iPhone QR Code Reader App

The free Quick Scan – QR Code Reader is a full-featured app that can read QR codes out in the world and from images in your photo roll.

iPhone QR reader

It can also add contacts to your address book, open links, and map locations, and add events to your calendar app. You can save codes for future reference, and the app has unlimited storage. All you have to do is open the app and point to the QR code you'd like to scan. If it leads to a URL, you'll get a notification that you can tap.

How to Scan a QR Code With an Android Phone

Starting with Android 8, the Camera app includes a built-in QR reader just like the iPhone's. Just point your camera at the QR code and tap the pop-up notification.

If your camera doesn't detect the QR code, try pressing and holding the code.

The Camera app and QR code pop-up on Android

How to Scan a QR Code With Android 7 and Earlier

Older Androids don't have a built-in QR code reader, so you'll need to download a third-party app and follow its instructions. For example, the QR Code Reader can scan QR codes, including Wi-Fi QR codes, which allows users to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot without inputting a password.

When you want to scan a QR code, launch the app and point your smartphone at it; you'll then either see the code's information or get a prompt to open a URL.

Android QR code reader
Android screenshot

All the Ways to Use QR Codes

When you scan a QR code, it might open a link to a website or social media account, display a YouTube video, show a coupon, or contact details.

Advertising is probably the most common use of QR codes. Brands can add a QR code to a billboard or magazine, for example, that sends users to its website or a coupon or landing page. For the user, this takes away the hassle of typing in a long URL, or jotting it down on paper. The advertiser benefits from real-time results in which the user immediately visits their website rather than waiting until they get home, or worse, forgetting about it altogether.

QR code at a store

Another use is through a virtual store, in which there's a large touch screen in a public place, such as a subway station or plaza. Shoppers can scan items with their smartphones and get the items delivered at a chosen time and location. Each piece has a unique QR code and works with a mobile app that stores payment and shipping information.

QR codes are often used to transfer cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. Some cemeteries around the world have started adding QR codes to tombstones to make it easier for visitors to locate the gravesite.

It's a good practice to only scan QR codes from companies that you trust because of security concerns. A hacker could link a QR code to a malicious website that looks legit but instead phishes your personal information when you try to log in. Also, be sure to check the URL before inputting your credentials.

  • Why won't my phone scan QR codes?

    You may need to increase your screen's brightness. Make sure you're holding the camera upright and that the camera lens doesn't have any smudges on it. If your camera app won't scan the code, try a third-party app.

  • How do I scan QR codes on my Chromebook?

    You can use the Chromebook Camera app to scan QR codes and documents. Open the camera and select Scan, then hold the QR code up to the lens. The app should automatically detect it.

  • How do I scan a QR code on my Samsung?

    To scan a QR code on a Samsung, open Camera and select Settings gear, then turn on Scan QR codes and point the camera at the QR code. On older devices, open Camera and select Bixby Vision > swipe left to QR Code scanner. If you have a photo or screenshot of a QR code, use the Samsung Internet app's built-in QR scanner.

  • How do I make a QR code on iPhone or Android?

    Use an app like BarCode Generator for Android or QR Code Reader Barcode Maker for iPhone to make your own QR codes. You can use a website like Barcodes.

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