7 Metrics for Measuring Software-Based Barcode Scanning Performance on Smartphones

Let’s face it, not all devices are created equal. You can’t determine how well a smartphone or its camera will scan barcodes by simply reviewing a spec sheet. Just because the device has a relatively high number of camera megapixels doesn’t mean it will be the best device for your scanning scenario. Every smartphone—and most importantly its camera hardware—is designed and implemented very differently, meaning that some smartphones provide better scan performance than others. In addition, certain camera modules can be better optimized with software for image recognition purposes, such as barcode scanning with Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK.

To determine the best device for your scanning application, you must look beyond the hardware itself. Here are seven metrics you should consider when testing any smartphone, and its software for barcode scanning performance.

Speed
The speed at which a smartphone can scan a barcode has a lot to do with how fast the camera can adjust to the scene featuring a barcode, and how fast the camera images can be processed. The faster the camera can be initialized, the shorter the time to the first barcode scan. It is thus an important measure especially if barcodes are not decoded in batches but individually.

Maximum Scan Range
The algorithms within barcode scanning software help extend the maximum decode range of a smartphone camera. However, the decode range is not completely solution-specific. The decode is also affected by the barcode in question (size, print quality and type) and camera capabilities (exposure and focus handling, and resolution). Some built-in smartphone cameras have a hard time consistently focusing on far away codes, which ultimately limits their range. Learn more about camera performance and why it matters in our new eBook.

Tiny Codes
The smartphone’s ability to decode a tiny barcode is primarily influenced by camera resolution, autofocus and exposure capabilities. The scanning environment also influences the phone’s ability to focus on the barcode. Some devices have a hard time focusing on a barcode that is printed or placed on a dark background due to exposure control issues.

Fast Batch
When the user moves the device from code to code, adjusting the focus takes a certain amount of time. Every device will adjust differently, meaning that you’ll need to test fast batch performance to be sure it meets your business requirements.

Low Light
Low light presents a challenge for any camera, especially for smartphone cameras due to their smaller sensor size. A combination of factors determine a camera’s low-light performance (learn more here). At the core of a good low-light performance measurement is the camera sensor’s ability to capture the maximum amount of light for any given shutter speed.

Power Efficiency
Device power consumption is influenced by many factors, primarily display backlighting, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi activity. While scanning, running the display and the camera are the main drivers of power consumption. In general, the larger the battery size the longer it will run between charges. Still, certain devices are better at power management than others.

Ergonomics
Several physical characteristics and design elements contribute to the ergonomics of any given smartphone. Some important factors to consider include device size, weight, design and form factor.

Ultimately, the scanning hardware is only a single piece of the puzzle. The performance of any smartphone is greatly determined by the software used to read the barcode. Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK is designed to provide enterprise-grade scanning performance across the widest range of smartphones on the market today. We’ve also compared some of the most popular smartphones on the market and tested their performance using our SDK. Read about the results in our latest eBook.