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  The problem with those cheap phones is that your private information
  will be mercilessly sucked into the Google cloud. Some of that is
  disguised as perfectly innocent and helpful features: contacts
  syncing, back-ups, connecting more easily to WiFis, etc.
if you truly value your privacy (most people don't; which solves the problem for them), it is trivially easy: buy a cheap phone (i.e. Moto E/G) and install a custom ROM like cyanogenmod without the gapps on it. then just run a Card-/CalDAV server (radicale, owncload, ...) on a computer in your home network (can be your laptop/server/raspberry ...) and you get the syncing you want without the google part.

of course it's extra work, but it's not rocket science. so if you really care about privacy, it's trivial to do. but as pointed out: most people don't, no matter if they have a cheap phone or not.

I think you grossly overestimate the technical aptitude of... 99.8% of the population?

no, not at all. I know most people are not capable of setting this up. but this is not the point:

the parent claimed that you pay for these cheap phones with your private data, which is not true. if you care about that (which > 99.8% of the population don't do) you are able to use those phones with those features without handing over your data to google.

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