1. The use of ceramic and titanium does make the phone better at scratch resistant, but nothing is drop proof. No matter what a company's marketing department says, we as customers have to make our own educated decision. While Essential has an upper hand at being scratch resistant, the ceramic back makes it more slippery which can easily cause it to slip out of the palm or pocket. So a protective case may be necessary for added traction.
2. In case of a drop, there are several factors to consider - angle of drop, surface on which the phone is dropped, height from which it is dropped, the point of impact, is there any tumbling after the first impact, etc etc. No two drops are the same and when I see youtubers doing drop tests, it just makes me cringe since those are not scientific or 100% reproducible.
3. Some folks here pointed out the usage of sapphire. Sure Sapphire is stronger than glass, but with manufacturers using gorilla glass 5, which supposedly offers comparable performance with Sapphire, makes it better at meeting price points. Sapphire coating a glass screen (HTC phones) is okay, but what would really make a noticeable difference is if the entire front was made of sapphire, which is also cost prohibitive (remember Vertu phones from the past).
There is a lot that can be said for and against the phone. But in the end, we all have to think and decide for ourselves. Is the Essential phone with an excellent build quality, stock adnroid, flagship specs like other phones, at $499 worth buying? IMO, yes...but then there are some that might think otherwise and that's fine too. Even if Essential doesn't sell too many phones, they have certainly demonstrated whats possible and I wouldn't be surprised if other manufacturers start taking cues from them for future phones.