You answered this in your question. "Prefer" means "produces a smaller penalty", and you've identified that the penalty in the first case is smaller. Why would this be a good thing? It amounts to preferring an explanation based a bit on many features, rather than one based entirely on one features. That's often a good bet to avoid overfitting.
These two weight vectors do not produce the same dot product with other vectors in general. If the vector X contained all identical values, they would.
If the 4 input features were regularly identical or nearly so, then it means they're redundant, and you may prefer to use just 1 of the features (your second case), instead of a bit of each. In this case, an L1 penalty would at least be indifferent to the two, not penalize the second one.