Phone maker Essential is pushing out an update containing the December security patch to unlocked Essential PH-1 units, according to the company's official Twitter page. The update will bring units up to build number NMJ51B. When asked via a reply on Twitter whether the update contained anything beyond the December security patch, Essential did not respond. All that the company noted was present in its original Tweet was the patch itself, so it's logically safe to assume that is the case. This update is only for those running stock Android 7.1.1 (Nougat). Essential PH-1 owners who have upgraded to the Android 8.0 (Oreo) beta test will not be able to take this update, but may get a separate update of their own with the patch in the near future.
Essential recently hosted an Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit, where the company spoke to users about a new portrait mode feature for the camera, and about a hopeful update to Android 8.1 (Oreo) some time after the public 8.0 update drops. No specific timeline was given for this update. It also told users that the second beta build for current Oreo beta users was due out this week, but when somebody on Twitter asked for confirmation, Essential simply pointed them back to the AMA. Presumably, this means that there have been no changes to the plans laid out in the AMA.
Essential recently became temporarily leaderless, with Android grandfather and Essential founder Andy Rubin taking leave of the company for what he said were personal reasons. This comes amid a large-scale investigation into reports of misconduct at Google, one of which he is apparently the subject of, with the results being reported to the public. There has thus far been no word that the two incidences are related in any way, and Rubin has not announced any plans to permanently leave Essential. Despite the possibility of support diminishing somewhat, the Essential PH-1 is still a great deal at less than $500, and one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on a phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 inside and a nearly bezel-free screen topping a unique design.