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Real-time software-based video codec is widely used on PCs with relatively strong computing capability. However, mobile devices, such as pocket PCs and handheld PCs, still suffer from weak computational power, short battery lifetime and limited display capability. We developed a practical low-complexity real-time video codec for mobile devices. Several methods that can significantly reduce the computational cost are adopted in this codec and described in this paper, including a predictive algorithm for motion estimation, the integer discrete cosine transform (IntDCT), and a DCT/quantizer bypass technique. A real-time video communication implementation of the proposed coded is also introduced. Experiments show that substantial computation reduction is achieved while the loss in video quality is negligible. The proposed codec is very suitable for scenarios where low-complexity computing is required.