For much of Android’s life span, Samsung’s Note phones have been some of the most anticipated devices of the year. They usually represent Android at its most brawny and eccentric, and have long been one of the most obvious choices for power users. They are, in many ways, the anti-iPhone.

Then Google started to take hardware seriously, and things got complicated. It’s a phone that appeals to a different type of power user, those who value stock Android, smoothness, and fast updates over a plethora of features.

Like so many others, I lie somewhere in the middle. I want the features and functionality of a Samsung phone, with the smoothness and long-term performance of the Pixel.

So when the Note 8 was released, I decided to take my time reviewing the device to see how it would hold up in the long term – especially after the Pixel 2 was released. I’m glad I did, because I realized something important about the Note 8: unlike many Samsung phones I’ve reviewed in the past, the Note 8 actually holds up to long-term scrutiny virtually unscathed.