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SmartSuite or Airtable?

Matthew Gira
7 min read

There’s a tool that has been becoming more and more popular on YouTube, LinkedIn, and honestly, a lot of my feeds. That tool is SmartSuite.

If you’re like me, your first instinct to seeing SmartSuite is that it’s just a knockoff version of Airtable. Why even bother looking at it then? Well, it has a lot of similarities to Airtable, but it’s definitely not Airtable. It’s a tool that is up and coming and could be a good alternative to Airtable for some.

If you want to try out either of the tools, you can use the links below to try them for free!

Try SmartSuite out here (Note, this is an affiliate link!)
Try Airtable out here (Note, I do get Airtbale credit through this link!)

With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into comparing Airtable and SmartSuite!

High Level Comparisons

To start, Airtable and SmartSuite are both database tools. They have a lot of similar views like grid, kanban, timeline, and gallery views. Both can hold thousands of records in a base or a solution depending on which tool you are talking about. They’re both structured very similarly, but with a few key differences.

Bases in Airtable are solutions in SmartSuite. Tables in Airtable are apps in SmartSuite. Same concepts, just different names.

SmartSuite is also more of a combination of tools compared to Airtable. As mentioned in an interview with SmartSuite’s CEO, SmartSuite is like a combination of Airtable, Notion, and ClickUp. Not sure I fully agree with that comparison as docs aren’t the same as they are in Notion, but we’ll cover more on that later.

It’s always hard to be a combination of tools as typically the tool just becomes average in all of them rather than elite at any one thing. So, I understand the premise of SmartSuite, but am curious what the tool will look like these next couple years.

For Airtable, they’re still very focused on data management. They’re not creating their own documents or trying to be the same combination of tools. Airtable is trying to be a connective platform rather than a combination. So, off the top, Airtable and SmartSuite have slightly different intentions. Similar, but not the same.

Enough of the high level, let’s jump into the details!

Charts and Dashboards

The first place I want to start is in charts and dashboards for Airtable and SmartSuite. Airtable recently launched their new interfaces feature and has been developing that feature very heavily in the past 12 months. Airtable interfaces are definitely improving, especially when it comes to charts, but SmartSuite definitely has an advantage here.

SmartSuite’s charts are very customizable and have a lot more functionality. The charts and dashboards are built as views in SmartSuite rather than over the top like they are in Airtable.

In Airtable, Interfaces sit on top of a base whereas in SmartSuite, charts and dashboards are just another view of data. It’s a slight user experience difference, so I would say it’s more of a personal preference whether or not you like it as sitting on top or as a different view.

However, if you’re someone that needs more complex charts and dashboards, SmartSuite definitely has the advantage on this at the moment.


Let’s now talk about forms. To preface, for both of these tools, I’m not in love with their forms. Both can work, but they’re not great. With Airtable, you can have someone apply and the experience is okay. There’s no conditional sections like you have in Google Forms, but you at least have conditional questions. In SmartSuite’s forms, there are no conditional questions at all just yet.

In both Airtable and SmartSuite, you can have questions in a form be required or not. So, to get around not having conditional questions in SmartSuite, you can just have questions not be required to answer. It’s not elegant, but definitely gets the job done.

There’s other small things that SmartSuite doesn’t have just yet when it comes to forms. Things like being able to allow people to request a copy of their responses once they submit their application or having an email sent to you when a form is submitted. These can be solved with native automations in SmartSuite though, so not a huge deal. A little annoying, but not the end of the world.


So what happens after someone fills out their form in Airtable and SmartSuite? How are fields different between Airtable and SmartSuite?

The first difference is in default views. SmartSuite has a nice feature where in status, single select, or multi select, you can set a default status. In Airtable, you can’t set a default status. It’s just blank when a record is created. You can have a default status in Airtable, but you have to create a simple automation. Similar to creating automations in SmartSuite for forms, it’s a little annoying, but not the end of the world.

Another difference in fields is linked records. In Airtable, there’s only one way to see linked records. It’s this colored box that is just standard. In SmartSuite, there are multiple ways to show linked records. I’m not entirely sure how valuable this is just yet, but I can see where it could be. An example would be a CRM where you can see the lead and then who on your team is the lead contact person for that client. That saves you one click potentially and clicks matter, even when they seem small.

The last significant difference between Airtable and SmartSuite is this field that SmartSuite has called SmartDocs. As I mentioned earlier, the way SmartSuite has been described is that it’s a combination of Airtable, Notion, and ClickUp. SmartDocs is what I think they mean compares to Notion.

I like the idea of SmartDocs. I don’t think you can compare these SmartDocs to Notion though. You can’t share them as links and you can’t input info from the fields into the docs. Where these SmartDocs could be helpful is if you are planning content in SmartSuite and are writing scripts or outlines in a SmartDoc. The equivalent in Airtable would be to have a Google Doc linked. Given that Google Docs have a lot more capabilities at the moment, I would lean that Airtable has the edge here, but the concept of SmartDocs is super interesting. Probably more of a personal preference though.


Now that we’ve talked about charts, forms, and fields, let’s talk about what I’ve hinted at: automations. Both Airtable and SmartSuite have native automations. I love that both have them as it solves a lot of potential problems and saves everyone a lot of time.

SmartSuite doesn’t have as many native automations as Airtable at the moment, but they’re definitely ahead of Notion when it comes to native automations.

Some automations that exist in Airtable but not in SmartSuite yet are the Outlook email automation, the calendar automations, and the Google Doc automation. One note on the Google Doc automation though. As I mentioned earlier, there might not be a need for Google Docs to ever integrate in SmartSuite because of the SmartDocs.

The other big difference in automations between SmartSuite and Airtable is that Airtable currently has conditional automations where SmartSuite does not. Not a complete gamechanger, but if you have workflows that are more complicated, conditional automations are pretty handy. They can help create one automation versus multiple.

Desktop Apps

I never thought I would care for this kind of difference, but here I am. SmartSuite doesn’t have a desktop app which is a real bummer. In the browser, when I was scrolling in SmartSuite, I constantly accidentally backswiped which caused me to go to previous views or cause the page to refresh. This was only because I didn’t have any data in the app in SmartSuite, so once I have data in it, it probably won’t happen, but still a bit annoying. If you’re used to Airtable, Airtable has a really nice native app. You can still use Airtable in the browser, but I’ve always felt that the desktop app of Airtable is a much better experience than the browser version.

I’m also just someone who doesn’t have a ton of tabs constantly open as that stresses me out. The less tabs and distractions I can have, the better. Hence, the caring for desktop apps.

There are mobile apps for both Airtable and SmartSuite, but I honestly never use mobile apps in these database tools. If I do use the mobile apps, it’s only to get a quick glance of data, not to build anything.

Final thoughts

Overall, I see the value of SmartSuite and as I’ve talked about throughout this entire post, the differences between Airtable.

If you’ve seen other posts on this website, you know Airtable is a favorite tool of mine and will continue to be. However, Airtable isn’t the right fit for everyone.

As Airtable openly admitted in their most recent announcement of their Connected Apps Platform, Airtable is really focused on larger corporate enterprise customers. Their focus definitely isn’t on small or medium sized businesses. There’s many different reasons why Airtable made that decision, but it does leave a gap for someone to come in and fill a need for small and medium sized businesses.

SmartSuite does feel like it could fit that gap, but they’re still in their early days. They just launched the product this year in 2022. That’s not to say they’re under developed. It’s a very developed tool as they’ve poured over $12 million in funding into the tool. It just means that SmartSuite will most likely improve very quickly and there might be some weird quirks at times because they are very much in startup mode. Comparing that to Airtable, Airtable has grown out the startup mode and more into its corporate life.

If you want to be an early adopter of SmartSuite, now is the time! This is definitely not your typical early stage startup.