Do smaller screens present information better?

I’m struggling to articulate something as I review the iPhone 6 (and advise on our review of the iPhone 6 Plus), so perhaps I can start a thought here and you can help me finish it.

I like the iPhone 6 and I liked the 5-series, but I miss the 3½″ form factor. I miss it not just because of how it nestles in the hand (relevant especially to the iPhone 3GS and earlier) and is eminently one-handable, but importantly because of how and how well it can present information.

When you have a small window onto the internet, the way in which you present its information has to be meticulously crafted; apps have to consider and use every pixel or point so carefully. There’s a care and craftsmanship that you have no choice but to apply if you have any ambition that your app could be called be well-designed and efficient.

But when the window gets bigger, you have to worry less about this efficiency. The bigger screen absorbs and forgives. This isn’t, note, a technical thesis; this isn’t anything to do with Auto Layout or @2x versus @3x at different ppis, and nor is it a diatribe about platform tribalism or web apps versus native apps… and yet all of these feed into it.

It sounds perhaps like I’m accusing devs of being lazy. I’m not, though the wider context of app development – increasingly hard to make it as a pure indie app dev, having to make difficult decisions about resources with a broadening line-up of targets – married to the shall-we-call-it simple design of iOS 7 and 8 also feeds into this thread.

So that’s where I’m at: a bunch of half-formed but deeply-felt thoughts about mobile phone screen size and how well information can be presented. If you can form a coherent, balanced and nuanced narrative out of all that, for god’s sake tweet me.

(There’s one more thing to ponder in this context: the Apple Watch.)