On the plus side, you can hold this iPhone any way you want. It's just another solution to the antenna problem.
This sounds like an early 80s copy-protection scheme that depended on the bad-sector map of the installed hard drive to identify it. It was reliable because only a low-level format would change the pattern, and very few people ever did a low-level format to their drives. The scheme failed when production improved and most drives could be manufactured error-free.