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Christmas Gift Guide

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

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

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

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

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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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I put him back.

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

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

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

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

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Just sharing some rice with global VP Hugo Barra.

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

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Xiaomi's answer to Dropcam's security cameras.

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

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