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What it's like inside Xiaomi, China's popular upstart phone-maker (pictures)

Xiaomi's Beijing headquarters looks like a typical Silicon Valley office, filled with toys and hip seating. There's even an office dog. I toured two nearby offices and the Xiaomi store in the mall attached to one office.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I wanted to see what it was like working inside Xiaomi, the 8,000-employee-strong, Beijing-based phonemaker that's making waves.

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2 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

One of the company's five office buildings is attached to a mall. (Xiaomi will consolidate to a single building in 2018.)

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Inside the office of Xiaomi's vice president of global, Hugo Barra, I hopped on a Ninebot Mini 'hoverboard' to explore.

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4 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi's mascot, the Mi Bunny, channels late martial artist and actor Bruce Lee.

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5 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

There's even an office dog, named Wang Cai (which means fortune), who was out and about during my visit -- too bad.

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6 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I snapped this photo of the basement cafeteria after lunch, when it's being used for some sort of testing.

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7 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Lots of greenery in the customer service section, but all the plants are fake.

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8 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The PR and marketing area resembles a lot of Silicon Valley offices I've been in: colorful and open.

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9 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

There of tons of toys and figurines here, just like CNET.

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This giant Mi Bunny plushie was too cute to resist.

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11 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I put him back.

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12 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi's gallery of gifts that fans make and then send to headquarters includes this pair of hand-painted shoes with the Mi Bunny logo...

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13 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

...and this phone decorated in millet, which is what "Xiaomi" means.

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14 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This collage wall chronicles fan events, the parties for phone buyers that Xiaomi uses to whip up enthusiasm instead of traditional ads.

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15 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

There's daily fruit delivery for every employee. Today's produce: a little bag of kumquats.

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16 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Some products here from Xiaomi and white label partners include AA batteries that don't include mercury or cadmium, and a mini router designed for college dorm rooms.

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17 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi's answer to the Philips Hue, this lamp softly glows with the whole spectrum of color.

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18 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi threw some short-grain rice into their branded cooker.

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19 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Just sharing some rice with global VP Hugo Barra.

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20 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

After my snack, I took the escalator into the adjoining mall and went to one of Xiaomi's 22 retail stores (only in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for now).

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21 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I saw the pink version of the Mi 5 flagship, which I hadn't seen at the Mobile World Congress launch in February.

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22 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

There are also headphones...

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...and Bluetooth speakers. Xiaomi works with partners on a lot of this hardware.

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This air purifier is a great example of a co-design with a company that works with Xiaomi to sell its products.

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25 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi also lets fans vote on partner products to make, like its own little Kickstarter. This robot is in production now.

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26 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Water filtration systems like this one are bulky, but an important option for safe drinking water.

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27 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Xiaomi's answer to Dropcam's security cameras.

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28 of 28 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

One final look at the Xiaomi store. Read more on my tech travels through Asia here!

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