Owners of the Essential PH-1 will be glad to hear that Essential announced that Android 8.1 Oreo is now officially out of beta and ready for OTA download. Most OEM updates are deployed in waves to minimize server load and reduce the risk of any potential bugs or glitches, so it may not show up immediately. To attempt a forced update, simply hit "Check For Update" in the appropriate section of the Settings menu. Please be aware that major OS version updates can range anywhere from 700MB to over 1.5GB, so using a metered cellular connection is far less preferable than using a Wi-Fi one.
Essential's handling of the Oreo update has been met with a myriad of reactions. The company, founded by Android's creator, Andy Rubin, offered an extremely clean, similar-to-stock AOSP build of the operating system. To that end, most in the Android community assumed the Essential PH-1 would be one of the first devices outside of Google's Pixel and Nexus lines to receive Oreo when the Nabisco-affiliated update was released to the market last August. Instead, a protracted public beta testing period of Android 8.0 was initiated, and then months later, the announcement that Essential Products was skipping 8.0 entirely and would update directly to Oreo 8.1. This too was followed by an open beta testing period, with today finally seeing the official rollout.
Suffice to say, it has taken Essential roughly seven months to update its single smartphone to Android Oreo. While there is something profoundly important and respectable with the company's decision to take its time to get things right, there is nonetheless an air of disappointment. The company has been hounded by an assortment of problems since its debut including a series of dramatic price drops, mishandling of customer payment data including driver's license numbers, initial periods of silence after the launch, hardware delays, severe camera performance issues due to rushed software, Andy Rubin's own temporary leave of absence, and of course the delayed OS update. Indeed starting a new company and releasing a product is much more difficult than it seems, although Essential has been open and transparent throughout most of these hiccups.