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Is it safe to buy Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone?

Like it or not, Samsung’s new flagship smartphone has to save the company’s brand after last year’s exploding battery embarrassment.

Samsung Unveils New Galaxy S8 Phone Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By all early accounts, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is an impressive high-end smartphone and it’s all but certain that the company will sell millions of them. But how the S8 fares goes beyond the phone itself.

Samsung, as any readers not living under rocks know, suffered an embarrassing public image crisis last year after several Galaxy Note 7 batteries caught fire or exploded. Two unsuccessful recalls of that phone led to the end of the Note line altogether, and like it or not, the Galaxy S8 has to demonstrate that it’s safe to buy Samsung again.

“One of the big things that Samsung’s doing now that it wasn’t doing before is double-checking the batteries after it receives them from suppliers,” The Verge’s Dan Seifert said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “If [they have] any issues, it’s rejecting entire batches of them, about 15,000 batteries at a time, if they fail any of these new tests.”

Seifert discussed a recent tour of Samsung’s factory on the new podcast — including an unplanned demonstration of what an exploding battery looks like.

You can listen to the new podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

Seifert said the biggest draw of the Galaxy S8, other than its supposed safety, is its screen, which he said is so beautiful that it “takes your breath away.”

“They’ve pushed the edges of the phone display almost to the phone frame,” he said. “So you don’t have these large borders around it, like you might be used to with an iPhone or other phones. The new S8 almost has no borders. It’s quite an experience. It feels like you’re just holding a screen.”

Also of note is Samsung’s answer to Siri, Cortana and the Google Assistant, a virtual assistant of its own called Bixby. Seifert said Bixby is the bridge between Samsung’s hardware and online services, but he doesn’t yet see it as a sign that the company is distancing itself from its longtime frenemy Alphabet.

“Samsung sees Bixby as an assistant that can go in all of its devices,” Seifert said. “So it’s launching on the S8 but the plan is to put it into everything Samsung makes, whether that’s a gadget or an appliance. Every piece of hardware is supposed to be able to be controlled with Bixby.”

“I don’t foresee Samsung being able to drop Android any time soon,” he added. “The big thing with Android is the ecosystem that it has. It has millions of apps and an established platform. Samsung doesn’t have that at all. Bixby might be a go-around.”

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