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An efficient rate control algorithm based on the content-adaptive initial quantisation parameter (QP) setting scheme and the peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) variation-limited bit-allocation strategy for low-complexity mobile applications is presented. This algorithm can efficiently measure the residual complexity of intra-pictures without performing the computation-intensive intra-prediction and mode decision in H.264/AVC, based on the structural and statistical features of local textures. This can adaptively set proper initial QP values for versatile video contents. In addition, this bit-allocation strategy can effectively distribute bit-rate budgets based on the monotonic property to enhance overall coding efficiency while maintaining the consistency of visual quality by limiting the variation of quantisation distortion. The experimental results reveal that the proposed algorithm surpasses the conventional rate control approaches in terms of the average PSNR from 0.34 to 0.95 dB. Moreover, this algorithm provides more impressive visual quality and more robust buffer controllability when compared with other algorithms.