How Do I Scan a QR With My Phone?

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by Michelle Lawrence | Last Updated: Sep 28, 2023

If you've been to a restaurant or attended an event recently, you probably watched people using their smartphones to scan quick response (QR) Codes. These QR Codes are black-and-white grids that contain links to menus or directions for navigating an event. If you opted for paper-based equivalents because you weren't sure how to scan a QR Code, use the following guide to learn how to use your smartphone as a QR scanner.

How Do I Scan a QR With My Phone?

Back in the 1990s, when QR technology was first used, the larger square grid was made up of smaller black-and-white grids. The smaller grids contained embedded information that a QR scanner read. They were first used for inventory management -- much like a standard barcode.

Today, QR Codes come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They appear on packaging and billboards. QR codes provide links to product information or product onboarding instructions. Consumers no longer have to browse the web for troubleshooting help. They just scan the QR Code and are redirected to the information.

Although QR Code technology has been available for decades, it didn't achieve widespread use until 2020. With the pandemic at its peak, businesses needed a way to conduct contactless interactions. Fortunately, manufacturers have been incorporating QR scanning technology into their smartphones since 2017 (iPhone) and 2018 (Android). As a result, organizations could leverage the available technology to deliver a digital experience.

Now QR Codes are everywhere.

What Do I Need to Scan a QR Code?

Most people use the built-in feature on their smartphones. However, QR Code scanning applications are available online to use with webcams. Mobile apps are also available in the App and Play stores. As with most technology, there are caveats.

If a QR Code is distorted, it may be difficult to scan. Some customized codes that deviate too far from the standard black-and-white code may be difficult to scan. Companies with successful QR usage ensure that codes are printed on smooth, non-reflective surfaces, and the image is clear.

How to Scan a QR Code on an iPhone?

Apple added built-in QR scanning to its iPhone and iPad in the release of iOS11. iPhones operating on earlier releases of the operating system use a QR Code scanner app from the App Store. Use the following steps to scan QR Codes on an iPhone.

  1. Open the Camera on your iPhone.

  2. Make sure the camera is rear-facing.

  3. Position the iPhone over the QR Code so all four corners are displayed.

  4. Tap the pop-up banner or QR Code icon.

Once you tap the pop-up banner, the QR Code will perform whatever action is embedded in the code. That may display a menu or download an app. Before tapping the banner, make sure you know what will happen.

How to Scan a QR Code With an Android?

The Android operating system began built-in QR scanning support on release 8. Prior to release 8, users downloaded a QR Code scanner app from the PlayStore. Use the following steps to scan QR Codes with an Android device.

  1. Open the Camera on your smartphone.

  2. Position the phone over the QR Code so all four corners are visible.

  3. Tap on the pop-up banner.

After tapping the pop-up banner, the QR Code activates and performs the embedded action, whether it's displaying a menu or sending an email.

How Do I Know If My Phone Has a QR Code Reader?

If your smartphone uses iOS11 or Android8 software, the scanning capability is built in. However, you may need to ensure the feature is active.


Perform the following to determine if the feature is active.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Camera.

  3. Tap the Scan QR Codes slider to activate.

If the slider next to Scan QR Codes is green, the feature is active.


If the pop-up banner does not appear, use Google Lens. Perform the following to determine if Google Lens is enabled.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Select Camera.

  3. Enable the Google Lens suggestions option.

If active, the Lens icon should appear on your screen. If the Lens icon does not appear, use the following steps to activate.

  1. Tap More or Modes at the bottom right of your screen.

  2. Select Lens.

  3. Position the QR Code within the white lines.

  4. Tap the magnifying glass icon.

Get Started with Lumavate

Incorporating QR technology into a marketing strategy is no longer optional if businesses want to deliver a comprehensive digital experience. To ensure your digital experiences are frictionless, schedule a demo to tour our product experience platform to see how QR technology adds to your customer's digital journey.

See Lumavate in Action

Meet with one of our experts to see how easy it is to centralize your product data, manage digital assets, and create digital product experiences. Trust us…you’re going to be wowed.