Payload is a significantly more powerful and more developer-friendly headless CMS when compared to Contentful, and its Admin experience is also infinitely more extensible.
Your organization may have specific requirements around how and where your data is saved. Contentful is a third-party API which stores your data on its servers, but with Payload, you have the flexibility to deploy your CMS and store your data wherever you need, however you need.
Easier to customize
Contentful’s extensibility is significantly limited when compared to Payload. With Payload, you provide your own Express server, which means you can extend and add additional functionality however you need. Customizing the Admin UI is also much simpler with Payload.
No usage restrictions
There are no bandwidth, document, or usage limits within Payload. In Contentful, you may be liable for overages and could even hit usage caps based on your plan. As Payload is self-hosted, you are in full control over the usage of your data.
Self-hosted vs. third-party
Payload is open-source and self-hosted, so you decide where and how you host your app—with no usage limits.
However, Contentful is a third-party API that you never truly own or control.
Payload's Authentication can be used in your apps, while Contentful's can't.
If the app you're building needs authentication, Payload has you covered. You can use and extend Payload's built-in Authentication however you need, complete with extremely robust access control measures. In Contentful, you'd need to sign up for a separate auth provider because Contentful's authentication is limited to their platform only.
Payload supports many features that Contentful lacks.
Payload has an easy way to show and hide fields based on the value of other fields. For example, you might have an “Enable Link” checkbox, that, when checked, a few more fields should be rendered. Contentful does not support this feature.
Payload gives you access to everything Payload does right on your server, without needing to deal with latency or network speed whatsoever. Combined with its Hooks infrastructure, Payload gives you the power to build anything.
You can completely and easily override Payload views, fields, and more with your own React components. In Contentful, you can only swap out fields, and you need to build custom fields via iframes which is significantly more difficult.
Manage your schema in code with Payload.
In Contentful, changes are primarily done in UI which means you often need to manually migrate your changes from environment to environment which is more difficult.