South Korean electronics giant Samsung has apologised to Chinese consumers after a lengthy report by China's state-run television broadcaster detailed design flaws in the company's smartphones.

The company, the most popular smartphone brand in the hugely valuable Chinese market, said in a statement that it "welcomed" Monday's half-hour-long report by China Central Television and acknowledged that firmware problems have caused some of its Galaxy S3 and Note2 models to crash.

"We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience, which resulted from management problems," Samsung said in a statement posted on its Chinese website late Wednesday.

Samsung's rapid expression of contrition comes after state media subjected its US rival Apple to a barrage of accusations of "unparalleled arrogance" earlier this year that only stopped following an apology by Chief Executive Tim Cook.

In response to the CCTV report, Samsung is offering free repairs for customers whose phones have crashed, and will reimburse those who have already paid to have them fixed.

Free replacement phones will be offered to those whose handsets remain broken after being repaired twice.

"We sincerely thank our customers for your longstanding support," the company's Chinese-language statement read.

Samsung is the latest upmarket foreign firm to come under sharp criticism from China's state-run media.

On Sunday, the day before the Samsung investigation aired, CCTV broadcast another show accusing US coffee chain Starbucks of overcharging its Chinese customers, featuring multiple correspondents and analysts who questioned the company's motives in China.

Starbucks responded to the programme by arguing that different operating costs in cities across the globe make comparisons of its drink prices in different markets inaccurate.