If you install LineageOS you can also install the Google apps that you are familiar with using.
For the Essential PH-1 running LineageOS 15.1 you will need to go to OpenGapps.org and download a zip file with whatever you desire.
You will need to choose:
Until you read more on that site, stick with the nano package. You can download more apps from the Google Play Store.
Before you undertake living without Google apps, look at your phone and decide if you can live without most everything published by Google. If you cannot then you need to install gapps.
My app selections for living without Google apps:
All items from F-Droid are free and open source. Here are my recommendations (alphabetically except location services):
UnifiedNlp (no GAPPS)
Deja Vu Location Service
Adaway (adblocking that requires root)
Afwall+ (firewall that requires root)
Davdroid (necessary for accessing online calendars and contacts (works with Google accounts)
F-droid (the fdroid store)
Fennec Fox (this is firefox - be sure to install ublock origin)
Ghost Commander (file manager)
KDE Connect (fantastic if you use KDE)
Netguard (firewall that does not require root)
Simple Contacts (use filter to avoid duplicates if they show up (WhatsApp))
Note: With Android 8.1 Google has made it more difficult to install apk files. I could not use the Files program to initiate an install of the FDroid.apk. The solution to this is to install it from adb:
sudo adb install FDroid.apk
You could even download all the files you want with your desktop computer and then batch install them from adb:
sudo for file in *.apk; do adb install $file; done
Yalp downloads apps from the Google Play Store. Apps may or may not work with LineageOS without the Google Play Services installed (see gapps above).
Apps I know work without Google Play Services (some are also available from Amazon's app store):
Blackplayer (allows for selecting directories)
Google Maps (doesn't allow downloading offline maps) Essential Camera (you really need to update this: the one from Muppets crashes) Here Wego maps (excellent offline maps)
Smart Audiobook Player
Whatsapp (also available from their website)
If you want to use DavDroid along with a google account (calendar, contacts) this is how you set it up:
Note: If you have shared calendars they will not show up.
UnifiedNlp (no GAPPS) is from the microg project and also requires a backend where I have chosen Deja Vu Location Service.
You can read about the other location services and choose ones that you prefer. If you want to use mapping programs with best efficiency you should install some location service. Read about setting up these apps when you install them.
Be sure to have your location services set to battery saving.back to the beginning