Best answer: In 2019, it's not a great idea to buy the Essential Phone. If you shop around just a little bit, you'll find other devices out there that deliver better overall experiences for a little more or even less money. Plus, Essential's future as a company is pretty uncertain right now.
There are cheaper phones that offer great experiences
Right now, the Essential Phone retails for about $430 - $499 depending on where you buy it. That's certainly a lot cheaper than flagships like the Galaxy Note 9 and Pixel 3 XL, but there are other phones out there with newer specs that cost even less.
Take the Nokia 7.1 for example. Released earlier this year, the 7.1 delivers a fantastic design, great software experience, a gorgeous display, and good cameras for just $350. The Essnetial Phone's hardware may be more impressive, but the 7.1 is better in its own right with two years of guaranteed software updates thanks to the Android One program and a 3.5mm headphone jack (something the Essential Phone doesn't have 😕)
You can also spend a little extra for something like the OnePlus 6T
If you've got a little more wiggle room with your budget, we also recommend checking out the OnePlus 6T. The 6T is more expensive than the Essential Phone with a starting price of $549, but it's better in pretty much every single way.
The OnePlus 6T is running Qualcomm's insanely fast Snapdragon 845, has a gorgeous AMOLED display, impressive cameras, some of the fastest charging speeds around, and a software experience that's so good we almost prefer it to what Google offers with its Pixel phones.
With the 6T, you're not just getting one of the best Android phones for under $600. You're getting one of the best Android phones. Period.
We aren't sure what the future holds for Essential as a company
There are a couple reasons you shouldn't buy the Essential Phone in late 2018. First of all, it isn't a spring chicken anymore as it was first released back in August of 2017 and is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor that has since been succeed by the Snapdragon 845 and 855. Perhaps more important, we aren't sure what the future holds for Essential as a whole.
Not too long after the team at Essential confirmed it was working on a successor to the Essential Phone, it was announced that it had been canceled along with rumors that the company might be sold. There have also been a couple scandals surrounding its founder, Andy Rubin, and sexual harassment complaints during his time at Google.
Essential has been one of the best brands in the business when it comes to pushing out software updates, but with the Essential Phone now over a year old, it's unclear how long that support will continue for — especially considering the bumpy road Essential's been faced with so far.
The Essential Phone has just about fizzled out
The Essential Phone isn't necessarily a bad product in 2019, but it's also not the best way to spend your money anymore. Whether you want to save even more cash or can spend a few extra dollars, there are other phones on the market that we think you'll be a lot happier with in the long haul.
Best for less
A great choice for tighter budgets.
If you were looking at the Essential Phone as an affordable alternative over something more expensive, why not go for the Nokia 7.1 instead? It offers a very comparable experience while also offering a newer CPU, guaranteed software support, and is the only phone we've talked about to feature a headphone jack.
Out of time
Not the same great purchase it once was.
After launching with a laundry list of complaints and tough-to-stomach price tag, the Essential Phone eventually turned into something special following relentless software updates and steep discounts. Unfortunately, at this point in time, there are considerably better phones on both ends of the price spectrum.
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