Spatial light modulators (SLMs) support flexible system concepts in modern optics and especially phase-only SLMs such as micromirror arrays (MMAs) appear attractive for many applications. In order to achieve a precise phase modulation, which is crucial for optical performance, careful characterization and calibration of SLM devices is required. We examine an intensity-based measurement concept, which promises distinct advantages by means of a spatially resolved scatter measurement that is combined with the MMA's diffractive principle. Measurements yield quantitative results, which are consistent with measurements of micromirror roughness components, by white-light interferometry. They reveal relative scatter as low as 10<sup>-4</sup>, which corresponds to contrast ratios up to 10,000. The potential of the technique to resolve phase changes in the subnanometer range is experimentally demonstrated.